Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Happy Mother's Day... ish

Twenty years ago, I had a mother, two grandmothers and a great-grandmother, all of whom were special to me in their own way and to whom I still owe, directly or indirectly, considerable parts of my personality.

Me and some of the important mothers in my life.
Today (as well as Sunday, when I had the idea to write but not the time), I still have my mother, whom I treasure greatly. And though I have lost both grandmothers and my great-grandmother, as well as two aunts who were mothers to two of my cousins, I have gained a wife, who has delivered four sons to this planet, a peerless mother-in-law as well as my wife’s grandmothers, all of whom, directly or indirectly, make me feel as if I lucked into extra families.

Twenty years is, of course, a considerable amount of time relative to my age. It’s a full third of my mother’s life and more than 57 percent of my own (thank you, online percentage calculator). On the whole, I feel I’ve fared far better in the love and loss department over that score than lots of folks, and keeping that perspective has helped me appreciate the everyday challenges of parenting.

Further, over time we’ve formed relationships with people who have struggled with becoming parents, who lost their parents far too early in life, who have encountered adoption from many angles, who have lost children along the road between conception and a healthy delivery. There are those whose relationships with their kids strained over time.

Observances like Mother’s Day can be nearly unbearable for these people as the rest of us carry on sharing old and new photos, making phone calls and meeting for dinner or, worse, taking for granted the ability to do any of those things without a hint of pain. Not that those of us lucky enough to have several mothers to celebrate should refrain from doing so, but at least we ought to realize the struggle others endure and acknowledge we might one day be forced to walk in those same shoes.

I wish I had a grand lesson to impart here. I also wish I’d had time to plan something to honor the mothers in my life this Mother’s Day instead of just stopping by the grocery store Sunday afternoon following swimming lessons only to realize the floral department closed a few days earlier as part of a remodeling project. At least Max colored a lovely picture for Kristie during church Sunday morning.

The more we’re surrounded by the day in, day out obligations of parenting, the less time there is to do anything special to celebrate the blessings of being in this stage of life. Someone always needs something to be done for them, and as much of a privilege as it is to help, it also puts a sizable damper on free time.

But even so, we’re incredibly lucky. I think we’re doing the best we can to make our kids feel loved, and that’s made easier by the generations before us who continue to make us feel loved. When life gets crazy, I try to keep that goal in mind and just hope for the best. Today is definitely one of those days, and tomorrow probably will be too. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A prayer for May 13:

Lord, I thank you for mothers. I thank you for my mother, who loves me as much as anything on this planet and who continues to be a daily presence in my life. I thank you for my mother-in-law, who from the first day accepted me and made me feel as if I were her own son. I thank you for my grandmothers, whom I miss dearly. I thank you for those mothers no longer with us and the love they shared when we were together. And I thank you for my wife, without whom I could not be a complete person. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Amen.

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