Sunday, May 10, 2015

On being a mom

Me as a brand new mom

On a hot summer evening over a quarter of a century ago, after hours and hours of grueling labor, a nurse placed a bundle in my arms, a son, and I became a mom.  Just like that.

I didn't really understand it at the time, but I had found my vocation.  Lots of people have careers that they find unbelievably rich and fulfilling and also manage to be wonderful parents.  That was never me.  Once they put Kenneth in my arms, nothing ever drew me in the way mothering did.  I gladly left my industrial engineering job behind and became a stay at home mom while my husband entered graduate school.  I had passing thoughts of entering this field or that when my children were in school, but Tom's very busy career and other circumstances came up, and the thoughts stayed passing.

Lots of times, it was hard.  I was alone a lot during some of the years... hats off to you single parents. That's tough.  It was hard when my kids were babies.  It was hard when they were school age.  Boy, was it hard when they were teenagers.

But I am grateful for every second.  Every second.  When my baby entered high school, I knew I wasn't ready for the upcoming empty nest.  God nudged me.  I nudged my husband...well, God helped.  We ended up adopting three more beautiful kids before Anna graduated from high school and just added a fourth.  Seven children!  My cup is full to the brim.

So I am now a mother of seven.  Tom and I would have laughed if you would have told us that would happen when we got married in 1986.  Our children run in age from nearly twenty-six to six years old.  Full-grown adults down to a kindergartner.  Guess what?  It's still hard.  I am a fretful person, prone to worry about things I can do nothing about.  It's something I need to work on with God.  Now my worries run the gamut from job prospects and study abroad trips and mortgages for the eldest children, and will they all end up with happy marriages; to making it to baseball and soccer and pioneer day to please can my child learn to use silverware appropriately before he goes to first grade.

I was thinking today that I have bitten off more than I can chew.  I am nearly 52 years old.  I am bone tired pretty much every day.  Wondering how my own mother managed to raise five kids and be so cheerful and serene all the time.

Then I realized that when I unloaded my troubles on my mom today, she was probably feeling the same things I feel.  I wish I could fix it for you, daughter.  I wish I could hug you, smooth your hair and tell you it would be fine and then it would be.

Because she's a mom.  It's her vocation, too.  I always tell people that we have a lot of pets and children because I have a strong need to nurture small things.  It's true.  And I know exactly where it came from.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  I'm very like my dad in most ways, but I'm so proud and happy to have this from my mother.

Right now, I have three young adults negotiating the wide world away from the security of our home.  I have four energetic elementary school kids crowding every day with activity.  I have joy.

Joy that is the same...whether it came from a doctor's hearty congratulations in the delivery room after a long labor, or a judge's quiet words in a courtroom in a far away country.  "You are a mother"...again and again and again and again and again.

I am a mom.

My mom and my kids at Easter.