On Being a Mom
~ A Tribute to Motherhood by Sandra Carlton Duncan ~
(A Mom of seven, who is still working through the last stages of that glorious, but swiftly fading, career.)
Part One: A tribute of a grateful daughter....
As I am writing this, it is the 6th of May, and it is also my mother's birthday. I am stunned to realize that, had she lived, she would have been 90 today! And this weekend we will celebrate Mother's Day as well. All of that being so, I would like to offer an honorarium to my own Mother, before I get into writing about my own experiences in the office of Mother, and honoring the others who have held that esteemed office.
It is a difficult task to write an honorarium for her, most would say that she did not merit the title of "Mother" at all. Truly she did not seem to covet that position in any way. In fact, in the heat of retrieving some of the worst of those rancid suppressed memories, I am sure that I have said so myself! She was an emotionally conflicted soul, damaged by illness, and shattered by life. She was not able to show love, I am not sure she was even able to receive it! So to say that childhood was not ideal is a gross understatement of mammoth proportions!
However, now that the dust of the rather arduous task of healing has settled; and now that all that filth has been swept up, dealt with, and cleansed away; and now that the refreshing water of Forgiveness has washed away the shame, soothed away the anger, healed the many wounds and broken all the fetters, I am still - by the miraculous Grace of a restoring God - truly thankful for her!
She was, after all, the vessel by which I came - however apparently unwilling she was to be so, at the time. I am thankful that she didn't have access to a free abortion facility, as I am certain that I would not be here! But, there was a part of her, I am certain, who loved us, and wanted us. That part just didn't make it to the outside very often. Her soul was buried in its own prison of shattered dreams and shattered pieces of self.
I am also thankful that it was her intermittent hunger, to be something better than she was, that made possible my encounter with the knowledge of God - of Jesus and the Bible. I am thankful that she at least strove with the illness which controlled her life, producing the nightmare that was our childhood. And that, at times, her better self was visible and tangible - leaving behind at least a small handful of cherished memories worth keeping. Her deeply resonant voice as she laughed or sang - her love of humor and music - of cleanliness and order - all a part of me. All comfort me in her memory.
I am thankful that I got her beauty, her humor, her gift for rhyme and well timed quips, her sometimes dignified ways. There are of course things I "inherited" that I am not so giddy about, but, that's life. One must take the bad with the good, or so I'm told. Overall, I am just thankful for her, both for who she was and who she tried to be. Because all of it - the good, the bad and the really ugly - has contributed to who I have become, as God has used each sharp edge to carve something of worth from the shattered mess she had made of us - simply because she herself had been shattered - a pattern that had stretched for generations, if I heard and understood the stories correctly.
Still, because she dared to hope for release, for change; because she dared to venture toward that revival meeting a friend at work had invited her to, because she dared to believe that His grace could reach to even the likes of her...all of which took more than an average amount of courage... trust me on that... she opened a door for us that she would never gain full access to. Because of her bravery, I have been somewhat successful at reversing the curses that tormented her all of her days, I have been somewhat successful at redeeming some of her gifts and using them as she would've liked to. I have been successful at raising my children without repeating the devastation - though it was much harder than it looked from the outside. I have been capable of enjoying them, when she could never really enjoy us the way she longed to. I have been able to live, to sleep, to eat, to breathe, to like myself, to appreciate what God has made - even in her. All of that reflects unspeakable blessings which she never knew in her brief, tormented life. Blessings which many take for granted and never even appreciate.
Her dark shadows are a stark background to the brightness of what God has done in me, and in her grandchildren born to me, whom she would never have the privilege to know. I would like to think that her courage, her audacity to believe what she heard at that revival service has earned her a place in heaven. I will know when I get there. I truly hope she made it. She had enough hell on earth to last several lifetimes. I would love to see her finally, utterly, at peace.
So, if she is there with you God, please give her my regard and tell her that I have been wildly successful at the things that mattered! Tell her that she did a few things right! Tell her I love her. And that, in spite of the memories for which I am not all that grateful, I am still grateful for her. And say hello to the Aunties for me too, if you will....
Also this mother's day I will be missing another jewel, that has been "taken for His crown" - all in His good timing of course. My "mother-in-love- - - and-war!", Mrs. Emma Lee Nimmer. This will be our first Mother's Day without her in some years! I know that she is celebrating in the heavenly realm - so - Live it up lady! We fought and discussed and respected and wrestled. We became fast friends as I was called on to care for her in her last years here. At times we seemed more like sisters. At times it seemed I even slipped into the place of Mother for her, as she increasingly looked to me to meet her needs, and eventually came to trust me enough to confide her worries to me. Motherhood, is, after all, mostly nurturing and comforting! And when God decided that it would become my training ground He took off all the limits! It was a privilege and an honor to serve her. So - Give her a big hug for us too, will You God?
Well, that is my honorarium from the position as a daughter - Tomorrow's edition will continue with my reflections about being on the other end of that Motherhood shtick!