Today I am talking about my hero. She doesn’t fly, wear a costume and a cape. She hasn’t saved the world from catastrophes or jumped off tall buildings to rescue a gentleman in distress. I’m not talking about Wonder Woman, Supergirl, or Oprah for that matter.
I’m talking about someone who’s a living, breathing (not that Oprah doesn’t do all those, but you know what I mean) inspiration to me.
I’m talking about my mom.
You see, my mom had me, the eldest of 6 children, at the tender age of 19. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for her. How afraid she must have been. How uncertain of her future. I remember her telling us that the one thing she regretted about her unplanned pregnancy at so young an age, was the fact that she knew she hurt her own mother. But she never regretted having any of us. She loves us, and we know this not only because she tells us every time. We know this because love, for her, is an action word. She lives love. She breathes love.
She was a stay-at-home mom until I reached 6th grade, there were only 4 of us kids then. She would take care of us, cook, do the laundry, get us ready for school, pack our lunches, take us to and from school, make sure we did our homework, clean the house – the quintessential hands-on mom and wife. Then when she decided to join the workforce, she did so with the same fervor with which she managed our household. She worked hard (and still does), but still managed to be as much a part of our daily lives as she used to. The twins were born when I was 14, and added a whole other crazy into the mix. But it was a good crazy. When I was young I took all that she did for granted, as ashamed as I am to admit that. Now that I have my own family, I am amazed at how she managed to do this all for us and stayed sane.
But this isn’t all that she is. She patiently sat with us at the table as we did our homework. She rarely raised her voice, or her hand to us. Even then, we always felt that she was coming from a place of love. She prayed with us, taught us songs (she even played the guitar!) and good-naturedly endured our endless questions. In the case of 2 of my sisters, they really were endless (Ahem, you know who you are). 😉
She never spoiled us. She was honest with us and told us that we couldn’t have what we wanted because we just couldn’t afford it. And none of us grew up to resent that. In fact, she taught us to be satisfied with what we had and to be thankful for every blessing, big or small, by her example. I cannot remember a time that she whined or complained about ‘our lack’, or stewed when she didn’t get her way. She was always so gracious and kind and genuinely happy no matter our circumstance. She would worry, oh that she would. She is, after all, human.
She disciplined us and set boundaries, and yes, there were days during my teens that I felt she was ruining my life, how could she be so unfair and totally uncool? There was the oft-repeated “When you grow up and have kids of your own, you’ll know I was right” or “You’ll thank me one day”. To which we rolled our eyes when her back was turned and vehemently and secretly disagreed. (A side note to the twins: She is right and you will thank her one day!)
During the dark days of my college years, I withdrew from my parents. And what I regret about that is the time I lost getting to know my mother better. I know she grieved for me, for our family. I saw it in her eyes. But I was a stubborn, angry, hard-hearted daughter who thankfully had a prayerful mother who never gave up on me. Who never gave up on us.
“A mother’s prayers mark her family with faith and trust in God. Her overflow of mercy and grace is a reminder that Jesus is the ‘author and finisher’ of the family’s faith. The fruit from her prayers personify Christ’s character, and hell clamors at the calm requests from a mom who trusts God. They pray for their children to obey and worship the Lord, and for their husbands to fear God, hate sin and love people. A mom’s prayer matters.” ( Boyd Bailey, Wisdom Hunters)
And we were given another chance.
2005 marked the beginning of a new relationship between me and my mother. I drew closer to her in a time of familial distress. In our less than ideal circumstances, we prayed together, our tears mingling in our tightly-clasped hands. As she cried out to God, I didn’t see a weak woman who had let her obstacles defeat her, I saw a woman strengthened by her faith. I saw a woman strengthened by her love.
During the following years, I would get to know an intimate side to my mother. We would whisper in the dark, long after the whole house has gone to sleep, sharing our dreams, our visions for the future of our family. We would swap stories and giggle like schoolgirls at the silliest things that happened during our busy workday. Often, she would fall asleep in the middle of our conversation out of exhaustion, and we would pick up the next night.
One of the things I would never forget is how she prayed for our would-be wives and husbands. She would lift us up, her kids, one by one in prayer and ask that God will give us the patience to wait for and direct our paths to the men and women He has chosen for us. And in my case, asked that God will bless my relationship with my then-boyfriend.
And so it came as no surprise to her the night I came home with a ring on my finger and told her of our engagement. The days and nights leading up to my wedding were a flurry of happy activity. But beneath it all, I was mourning the end of those nights shared with my mom – all to live with a boy.
Even now, as I mother my own daughter, I look to her for advice when uncertainty creeps in. I am eternally grateful to my mom for all that she is and all that she does.
To borrow lyrics from Brian Melo’s song “Half as Good as You” (which I have not heard):
Who’s watching over you
While you’re helping me find my way
All the things that I went through
I thank God that I met you
I hope the day comes soon
When I’m half as good as you
Mom, your very act of love, each and every day inspires me to do great, to be great. I look forward to the day that I can say I’m half as good a mom to my Little Miss as you are to us, and wife to My Man as you are to Dad. I love you, Mom.
From left to right: My sisters C, CJ, Mom, Me and my sister J
Written as part of MamaKat’s Writer’s Workshop for the prompt: Describe a woman who inspired you.