I cannot tell you how much I owe to the solemn word of my good mother.
From the moment we discover new life living inside our wombs we have no idea how having babies and raising them and watching them grow into young adults will stretch us.
How motherhood will squeeze our hearts with love oozing out all over and so much joy.
Or sometimes how pain like a knife will stab hot with so many tears flowing.
And all along this glorious way we can doubt ourselves, or blame ourselves when things go wrong with our kids, when they get in trouble or get their hearts hurt.
Feeling like a little girl lost trying to figure out a mighty and holy undertaking for which we are often inadequately prepared.
And how we worry all through the years!
Did we do anything right?
Him always, always holding us through the ups and downs and days at the soccer field and nights cradling little ones feverish and us trying to get it all done. Running, running, running and huffing in the hectic yet always with time for hugging.
And needing to be still and just breathe.
Breathe in the Holy Spirit, breathing in peace. And our Perfect Father picking up the broken pieces and growing us up as we watched them grow.
And in moments unexpected pulling us close to Him with whispers of love straight from the Father’s heart.
Driving recently with my second oldest son the conversation turned to when he and his two brothers were very little and I was raising them as a single mom.
Times were tough.
My heart was shattered.
I was attempting to get my life right with God and stumbling along the path.
And so many times lying awake late into the night recounting what I had done wrong that day and chastising myself to do the mothering thing better. To do the daughter of God thing better. Wondering if my mistakes were ruining my kids.
Have you ever felt that way?
Yet all the while He was leading me — just like He is going before you — as I was trying to lead them. His grace, and tender loving care overwhelmingly good and filling in all my cracks.
Him the head of our household down one, holding us together through all the years of good and bad and everything in-between.
And after coming through some rough patches, I bless and thank God that my three sons are all okay. Finding their way and figuring life out one day at a time, tucked in Father’s hands.
And then Ben’s words to me in the car that day.
You did a great job with us, Mom, you really did. We all turned out good because of you and the sacrifices you made. You spent so much time with us even giving up your career to raise us and be at home. And even though you have no 401K or retirement savings now you did the right thing. You made the best choice by devoting yourself to me and my brothers instead of a job.
Wow! Am I rich!
Speechless for a while, taking in the magnitude of his words, I silently thanked my God who had walked with me through all of it and my heart humming with sweet confirmation.
And there is therefore now no condemnation and my son’s words like a loving pat on the back from Father to daughter and Him smiling down on us.
And me so very humbled and tears brimming.
And your kids probably thinking the same thing about you, Mom. So rest, my friend, we all do the best we can.
And Mother’s Day is any day and we celebrated last night at Longings End with not one, nor two, but all three of my sons, and my beautiful daughter-in-love, and all of us sharing a meal — living, laughing and loving together.
The empty nest filled, but differently now.
With Son #2, who returned in December, trying valiantly each time he visits for dinner to close the gap of his loses to the Chess King’s wins.
And my baby boy stepping off the train a week ago after a red-eye brought him east and me just holding him.
And finally the first born and his bride the last to relocate back to New York getting here yesterday and staying with us while they search for an apartment before grad school begins.
My heart and home filling and overflowing.
And after the last two and a half years of adjusting to all the empty and grown children far from home establishing their own lives, we are back together again at least for a season.
Empty nest tears all dried. Heart stronger for having traveled through it. Hands more open to the changes that life and time bring.
Lessons in loving and letting go learned and learning still.
And thankful for such a loving husband who held me through it all.
Like the day my second oldest left for Hawaii — enroute to Salt Lake City several months later — with just the clothes on his back, a tree hammock, a little bit of money and no cell phone. And God gently teaching trust.
Me reduced to a crying mess who called into work and drowned my sorrows in an extra bowlful of gravy at the diner my Michael dubbed The Farewell Cafe, a place of refuge and comfort food following each son’s leaving.
Then my oldest and his wife next to travel west and my mother’s heart bid them a tearful goodbye. And then my baby boy, at 19, leaving since his brother-best friends were in Utah and he wanting to join them.
And long ago wisps of them everywhere I looked in our home from pb&j fingerprints on glass doors to socked feet sliding down long hardwood hallways to tea parties in a snugly warm kitchen on snow days complete with chocolate chip pancakes and at the end of all the busy every 24 hours tucking in sleepyheads with prayers, stories and always Goodnight Moon.
Then my sweet Michael driving us 2,200 miles with sinuses completely blocked before surgery so I could see them for a birthday to long remember and ribbons of love and so much grace knitting all our hearts close even though many miles separated us.
And other mothers who had gone before me soothing: We let our chicks fly but they come back eventually, you’ll see.
But some of those empty nest days — and especially the nights sleepless — were hard and I wondered if I would ever adjust.
God’s grace is abundant and we hold His hand one day at a time in each new chapter of life as He leads us into what He has next for us.
Filling us in new ways very fulfilling even as our mother’s hearts linger on all the little things long remembered.
Tiny treasures locked forever in hearts grateful.
But the deceiver always wanting to steal every good gift. And lies leading us astray focusing on what we may have done wrong.
God’s amazing grace and love covering over the multitude of mommy messes.
And if we listen very closely we will hear Him whispering words of love and comfort regarding our calling as mothers.
We did do a lot right.
As right as we could at the time and children so forgiving as we humble ourselves before them, asking forgiveness. Being the best examples of love that we can be as we journey forward learning to love better all the time.
Lessons in the moments.
And Him continuing to heal our hearts one day at a time.
Setting us free from a mother load of guilt so there’s room in our hearts enlarging to welcome new daughters or sons, gold bands binding them to our children’s hearts and them into our hearts as if they themselves had grown under our hearts long ago.
Then some day in God’s good timing, God willing, the pitter-patter of little feet, and tiny sticky fingerprints and finger painting on the deck in sun warming and splashing in puddles and splashing in bathtubs and cookies baking.
And chubby little arms once again wrapping themselves around a mother’s heart that never grows old…
All our longings end in love