Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Mother’s Daughter

With the recent celebration of Mother’s Day, I was reminded of a piece I wrote about motherhood that was published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul Empty Nesters book a few years ago. I would like to share an edited version of the story to hopefully bless and encourage other mothers, too.

My mother was in her mid 60’s. She was still a lot of fun to be with, she was still hard-working, and she was still a beautiful woman inside and out, but she had this habit that made me uncomfortable… she worried.

Throughout the years of raising my own children, whenever a mishap occurred I would sometimes call Mom. But the past few years I have fought the urge so as not to burden her.

My mother used to be carefree and happy-go-lucky. She used to deal with the endless mishaps of raising us five kids with take-it-in-stride abandon. I am the middle child and decades ago, one by one, we each left the nest to begin building nests of our own. I don’t recall mom worrying much as we packed up and moved out. It seemed to me that she was actually relieved because we noticed that following each departure, Mom immediately re-decorated the room that had just been vacated.

One day, after recently dropping off our son at college for the first time, I asked my mom, “How did you do it?”

The pain of “cutting the cord” was so raw that I wasn’t even able to say my son’s name without getting a lump in my throat. And our daughter was sixteen; we knew we’d have to do this again. My mother, however, had to let go five times.

“How did you ever get through letting go of five kids?” I asked, dabbing at my eyes.

My mother smiled reflectively, nodding her head slightly.

She’s smiling?

“Well,” Mom momentarily paused, “There was such constant commotion for so many years, that I guess I reached a point where I became anxious to get my own life back.”

“But you made it look so easy,” I added.

“Oh no, it was never easy. It’s just that there was always so much to do; I worried as I worked. As a mother yourself, you know you start worrying from the moment you find out you are pregnant – it never stops.”

It never stops? Why did I think this job had an end to it?

For years I daydreamed about what I would do after my children moved out. I had mistakenly assumed I would go back to being my carefree self again.

And that’s when it dawned on me. It wasn’t my mother who had been the lighthearted one—it was me. Mom had always been worried about us, I had just been so busy spreading my own wings and making my own nest that I never stopped to think about the adjustments she had to make with each of us leaving.

Suddenly this “letting go” thing became clear to me: as I watched my children spread their wings in anticipation of leaving our nest, I, like my mom, wanted them to never forget – my wings were bigger than theirs. My wings would always be able to wrap around them.

While cords have to be cut, heartstrings never do.

Her children arise and call her blessed… (Proverbs 31:28).

From my heart to yours,

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