motherhands

You’ve grown up, now, all five of you. You are productive citizens pursuing life with fervor. You love God and your fellow man and you serve gratefully. You are both respectful and respected and are just plain good people.

But I need to know: Did I mother you well?

I know I rubbed your back four million times and did your hair and then backed off and watched you do your own when you were sure you could do it by-a-self. And I fed you Southern fried chicken and created KFC Bowls from scratch, made you sweet tea and homemade bread and baked all those cookie cakes for all those birthdays until peanut butter pie took over the favorite spot and then I made those. I planned themed birthday parties and hosted slumber parties of 15 with bodies draped all over the house at 5am, all but those pulling the all-nighter munching on homemade chocolate chip cookies and talking and playing games.

But did I mother you well?

Did I spend enough time just listening to you, sitting with you in the quiet space or doing something you wanted to do? Did I tell you enough times how much I love you?

I know I didn’t complain about football-sweat hugs or get too mad about you leaving your black leather batting glove in your white uniform pocket that ruined my favorite white shirt, and I cheered like a madwoman when you pitched the baseball through that piece of plywood and left a perfect baseball-sized hole clear through. I yelled, “See the ball and take it out!” and “You can do it!” and “Yes, that’s the way!” and “Oh, no you did not just blindside my baby!”, whispered calm and protection in the night and left a lullaby playing softly as I tiptoed out.

But was that enough?

I sat long at the ball practices and watched through every dance class for nine straight years and brought all that strange stuff backstage (just in case, because you never know when you might need an eighth-inch wooden dowel in a pinch). I took those photos–all those photos of every event and every ordinary moment I could capture because they are all extraordinary when you are mothering miracles.

Yes, I chased you down with homemade remedies that smelled awful but made you well by the next day. I teamed up with Daddy to guide you away from bad behavior and attitudes and had those long talks about hormones and all the crazy stuff that comes with growing up. I tried not to make you feel guilty for too much if I could help it, said sorry from my heart when I reacted or made a mistake or scolded too quickly.

I stayed home and made do and lived simply and taught you to love learning for its own sake. I did everything I could do to ignite a passion for life deep in your heart. I treated you like the unique person you are and didn’t compare you to anyone else. I loved celebrating how God wired you because I happen to think He did a splendid job and didn’t mind telling you so. I said you didn’t have to kiss me goodbye in front of your teen friends even though you did it anyway because you wanted to.

But did I mother you well, my children? Did I give you precious memories to hold onto, minimize life’s struggles even a little bit, help you believe you could do anything with God’s help and a good dose of gumption? Did I mother you well?

I ask because as the years fly by and you grow up and out and I see the collateral damage I and others in my generation carry on our backs I need to know I didn’t shift that onto yours. I need to know you carry a much lighter load into adulthood than I did, than my parents did, and theirs before them.

I need to know that I mothered you well because in all this life I can write and speak and paint and and produce but there is no art I could ever create as beautiful as you.

 

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10 thoughts on “But did I mother you well?

  1. You did. You gave them memories. You loved them. acknowledged who they were where they were. Prayed and cried over them and blessed them.
    It was more than enough. You are a Godly mama…not perfect..but the perfect mama for them.

  2. Omgoodness Lisa!! This makes me cry so…………only a mama who delights in her children could write this at the very heart of us moms………..and when we grow from the times they were little and look back and think I should have done that different with the knowledge we have now, we have to forgive ourselves and count on His grace……….love it!!

  3. My dear Lisa,
    You did it again. How in the world do you do this?
    This just hit me right in the heart.
    Oh, if only I could get a do-over with my three children, two of whom are deceased.
    Yes, I would have watched my mouth and the negative words that spilled out in anger and frustration. Oh yes, I would have stopped and told them “I am so sorry, I was wrong”
    With the exception of my job as a nurse…back then, you did not get to pick your hours and shifts, while working in hospitals. But the shifts were only eight hours.
    But, I could have stayed home with them more often and made myself available to sit down and talk with them and listen to them, especially when I had my days or nights off from work. But, no, I did not always do that.
    IF only I had paid more attention to my kids and made myself find out who all they were associating with after school.
    IF only I could have been a stay-at-home mom, then maybe they would not have gotten into so much trouble.
    Yes, sometimes I still play that “If only” game with myself.
    Now, at this moment in time, I cannot go back in time and ask each of my children,
    “Did I Mother You Well?”
    Yes, I did mother my three children very well until about the time time when they reached the age of 10-11. Then things changed.
    But that is another story.
    As adults, I can tell you that all three of my children would answer that question with a big resounding “NO” and because I know this, that is what makes my heart hurt.

    1. My dear friend, I am so very sorry for these regrets you carry in your heart. I am praying that God will wrap His arms around you and fill those empty places like only He can. I have something to share with you. My mother could have written your comment nearly word for word. She wasn’t a nurse, but she raised me alone after my dad died when I was 12 and she was always at work. She was in and out of relationships to fill that part of her that longed for companionship, and also for the element of help they provided. All that to say I didn’t see a lot of my mom. I got into things I never should have, and my heart was hurt in some pretty profound ways. But in the end, I adore my mother. She died 7 years ago at the age of 66, and I have never been the same. I would not answer our big question with a “no”, because I believe she did mother me well within her own limitations. I knew she was trying desperately to support us, and even as a young teen I understood her need for male companionship. I never felt abused or truly neglected by her, even though she probably assumed I did.

      I loved my mama and still love her memory, love her for who she was in spite of crushing odds against her. She was an amazing mother to me, and I will forever be grateful to her. I only wish she was still here so I could continue to show her my gratitude. All that to encourage you for working so hard when your kids were younger, and to ask you to look for the lovely things you did for your children and focus on those. Maybe even make a list in a journal and keep adding to it every time you think of it. Something tells me you were a far better mother than you give yourself credit for, because we all tend to allow the negatives to loom larger than what we did right. I know my own mother made many mistakes, but those are not what my heart remembers.

      I love you, sweet friend.

      1. Lisa, thank you for sharing that story with me.
        yes, you are right, there are times when I look back and I can see the things I did and did not do and yes, I do make comparisons in my head.
        But, in my heart, I am aware that I did the best that I could, with what I had at the time.
        Do I regret? Yes
        Do I dwell on it? Not as much as I used to.
        That is because our beloved JoAnn gave a seminar to the ladies at Discover Life Church here in Johnson City TN. I took that class and through her, I learned so much.
        Last year, I started writing, on the computer, my memories of my children when they were young.
        This might even take me another year to finish this Book of Memories.
        But it is therapy for me.
        It also helps me to refresh my memory, of the good times as well as the bad things, but I do not dwell on those bad things.
        I do not want to dishonor my daughter Margie nor her brother Scott.
        I only type in certain events that needs to be included to flow with the timeline of how we got to that point in time.
        Yes, eventually, this will be a book that I will give a copy to my younger daughter Kimberly and maybe a copy to my son’s daughter and my daughter’s daughter. That is, if the Lord tarries.

        Thank you for allowing us to make comments to your postings.
        It does help us to recognize just who we are and how did we get here.

      2. You are so welcome, my friend. I appreciate you taking the time to converse here. I love the give and take of thoughts and memories and ponderings. May God bless the writing of your stories.

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