Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide to have your heart walking around outside your body.
A Letter to My Daughters Who Have Children of Their Own:
Dearest Jessi and Amy,
I have barely touched the keyboard of this computer and already tears are streaming down my face.
I am sitting here with my first cup of coffee, listening to the rain fall. Mother's day is almost here. It is right around the corner, and I want to write you a letter. There is so much I want you to know. So much I want to share from my heart-of-hearts. It's all about my Mommy, being your Mommy, and watching the two of you be a mommy to my precious grandbabies.
Just the thought of Mother's Day, without having my own Mom here, leaves me being one.hot.mess.
I can't imagine not hearing her voice ever again or listening to her wisdom. Or knowing that she has my back, no matter what. I miss her every day. I never knew that when she was gone, the hole that was left would seem impossible for anyone else to fill.
I had no idea, since she and I were so different, that I would miss every "different" thing about her that used to make me so irritated at times that I thought my head would surely spin off.
She and I didn't always have an easy or comfortable relationship, but every single day I knew that she loved me more than anything else in the world. How she expressed it wasn't always my love language, but we didn't even know what "love languages' were back then. She carried her mottled copy of Dr. Spock's Guide to Raising Children everywhere. He was the wisdom in her corner when all else failed. So even though from time to time we missed each other as meanings flew by and connections sometimes weren't made, we both tried. We were "cut out of different cloth," she and I.
Yet, in spite of every difference...she was my anchor, my supporter, the one I would call when everything fell apart. She found it difficult to share emotions and I was usually a puddle of every emotion conceivable.
Yet I learned everything I know about mothering from her. What did I learn? As a Mommy...You are always there. You are always someone to count on. You love me when I don't love myself. You believe in me when everyone else has given up on me. That's the kind of Mommy she was. A present Mommy. A visible Mommy. A "drive you to horseback riding" Mommy. A "I'll ride the chair lift to see you at your first ski race (even though I am TERRIFIED of heights)" Mommy. A worrying Mommy. An "I can tell you are unhappy, even if you won't tell me" Mommy. An "I'm so proud of you I can't stand it!" Mommy. A make a great meal Mommy. An unbelievably unselfish Mommy.
You only get one Mommy, and she was mine.
She tried to be the best Mommy she could be, even though her own Mom's parenting style left her feeling invisible and unworthy. She and her Mom didn't always get along or agree on how much suppport and love was needed. Yet I was so cherished that she dug deep to leave old role models behind and forge a new path of parenting with love. She wanted me desperately, just like I wanted the two of you. I never really got how deep and wide and tall and strong her love for me really was until I had you. After all..
We never know the love of a parent until we become parents ourselves.
-Henry Ward Beecher
When I look back at the old photographs of when I was preganant with you both, my face glistens with great joy and pure terror. I wanted you so badly, but I also felt so unsure about how to
love you in a way you would both feel deeply loved, unconditionally loved...just as you are. It is not an understatement to say that you two are very different. You were different as babies, different as little girls, different as teenagers and young women and different as adult young women. And while in some ways you are both like me, you are also both your own unique blend of your father as well.
What I know for sure is that I love, love, LOVE your differences. I love that you are uniquely yourselves. I truly believe that you are each God's miracle and He made you for a plan that would be truly your own.
Where you are both so similar is how much you love and adore and are there for your own children. You love them with a passion you never knew you had. You love them and adore them and would give your life for them in a second, because they are your heart. You know what it is to love unselfishly because of them.
What you couldn't know when you were little but perhaps know now more clearly, since you are both Mommies, is that I love you both the same way you love your children. Jessi, when you were born, I loved you with my whole heart. Amy, when you were born, God grew a whole new heart inside me to love you equally. Having you both has been life's greatest blessing and I cannot for one instant imagine my life without you.
I loved having your friends over to our home to play. I loved reading you stories at night. I loved listening endlessly to the "programs" you put on and the plays you concocted. I loved decorating your lunch bags and putting notes in them or decorating where you ate your breakfast and leaving you cards. I loved the thousands and thousands and thousands of miles I logged carting you to and from activities you were in. I loved sitting at those activities and watching you shine. I loved listening to your chatter in the car since I learned so much about you in those times when I was the invisible driver. I loved putting a cold compress on your forehead when you were sick and holding you when your heart was broken. I loved sending you care packages at Camp Reed so you would have some fun treats while you were there. I loved watching your friends like a hawk to see who was healthy for you to be around. I loved saying "Yes, you can!" and I even loved saying "no, you can't"...even when it might make you cry or be mad at me. I loved watching how smart you were in school and meeting with your teachers at parent conferences. I loved standing up for you and being there for you...no matter what. I loved telling you I loved you and telling you how important it was for you to love yourself. I loved helping you when you were in a jam. I loved not giving up on you when times got tough. I didn't give up on you then and I will never, ever give up on you now. Not ever. I loved teaching you manners and how to treat people in a loving way, with respect, no matter what. I loved showing you that every person is God's child and that being "different" is okay, and that differences were to be loved and appreciated. I loved telling you that God loved you and would always be with you, no matter what.
I loved every minute of being your Mommy THEN, and I love every minute of being your Mommy NOW.
I cannot believe that in a blink of an eye, you are both grown up, both amazing and giving people, both great daughters and family members, both so smart, both wonderful teachers and both have the beloved title of being a Mommy yourself.
I wanted you to hear how important this role is from someone besides me. Kelly Corrigan does an amazing job talking about parenthood being the great adventure:
(Thank you to my dear friend Vicky Westra for sharing this with me! :) )
But this journey to parenthood has not always been easy. While you have both had great JOYS in your life, I also know that life has not always been easy for either of you. That's how life is, a mixture of great joy and also great pain. Yet as hard as it has been for me to watch these "toughest times," what I know for sure is that some of your most important learnings come when things fall apart, when there are shipwreck moments in your life. Moments that things are torn apart, the very fabric of your being. Moments that what you thought would always be there would be gone. Moments when you could feel your heart breaking. Moments when you would want to give up. Moments when you wondered if there was a God and where the heck was He. If you had not had some of these moments yourself, you could never understand or empathize with your children when they have these moments. Your great pain is a teaching tool for when they have great pain, and they have and they will.
One of the hardest parts of being a Mommy, for me, has been when what I have said or done caused
pain for each of you. Moments when you were so mad at me you wanted to cover your ears when I told you what the truth looked like to me. When I told you what was on my heart. When I put conflicts out on the table with each of you.
As your Mom, I have tried to be authentic and real even though I wasn't parented that way. While I have told you thousands of times that I love you, I have also told you some things that have been hard to hear. It was never my goal to hurt you, rather to help you grow into who God meant you to be.
We are all broken. We are all imperfect. I certainly am. As I look back at being your Mom, there are some things I would do differently. But what I wouldn't change for a minute is how much I love you.
I am in awe of the kind of Mommy you each are. While at times your parenting styles are as different as you are, what remains the same is the deep, deep connection you have with your children. You are their safe place to fall. They feel so loved by you, adored by you, seen by you. You have real heart-to-heart talks with them. You listen to them. You are there for them. You have fun with them. You role model a deep kind of courage that will sustain them in their own shipwreck moments.
How blessed I was to have a Mommy who loved me. How blessed I am to be your Mommy and love you. And what a blessing it is to see you be a Mommy and love your sweet children, with your whole heart. I am so proud of you for the kind of women you are, and for the kind of Mommy you are to each of your babies.
Happy Mother's Day, Jessi and Amy. I will love you forever. I will like you for always. For as long as I'm living (and beyond) my babies you'll be.
Love you to the moon and back!
Monday, May 05, 2014
"If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old." ...