Yesterday on Instagram I shared a nomination for Darling Magazine‘s “#12DaysofDarling”. The question was simple: Who would you nominate as someone who’s made an impressionable influence on you?
There truly is a long list of men and women alike who have made impressionable influences on my life. Sisters, friends, pastors, mentors, so many. I am thankful to every person who has made that list so very long. However, the person who always makes their way to the forefront of my mind when I am thinking of impact and love and lessons, is my mother. Mothers are always making big impacts, even if sometimes negatively so. Mother’s (and fathers as well, but this is about the moms) take up a lot of space in our lives; they’re our example and our teachers. Even when it’s unintentional.
My nomination was simple (well, as simple as I could make it – they asked for a few lines and I most definitely gave them a paragraph because my mother can not be contained in a few lines): I am not my mother’s daughter by birth. She never felt me flutter in her body and she was not the first person to hold me as I breathed in life for those first cherished moments. But I am most certainly my mother’s daughter by love. She didn’t feel me flutter, but she felt a thousand butterflies as she waited for me – as she planned for me and wanted me. As she stood in the hospital watching and praying. She did not give me life, but she has given me love ceaselessly for 24 years. Love and light and goodness. She has taught me about Christ. She has taught me how to make my grandmother’s special pumpkin pie. She has held me in her arms over and over and over again. As a child with hurt feelings, she would whisper the song “I’ll Be Loving You Always” into my ear. As a teenager with a broken heart, she danced her fingers through my hair and listened, knowing all the while that I would most assuredly heal. As an adult so terrified of being an adult, she has sweetly said “I know, baby” and kissed the tears on my cheeks, never making me feel ashamed. In her arms I have learned that the way to love others is to be there: arms open, harshness set aside.
That is, truly, the very very least that I could say about my mother and the way that she has loved me well. She is my safe house. She is my protector. She is my best friend, my role model, my person.
Writing that short post prompted me to sit and think about motherhood. How beautiful it is. How spiritual it is. How amazing that God would allow us the honor of being mothers (and fathers). I began thinking about all the mother’s that I know – women in my family, women from church, my friends who are going to be mother’s so soon – and my heart became so full. I don’t know about you, but when my heart is full I can’t think of a single better thing to do than to write a letter. So this is a letter to the mother’s that are knee deep in nurturing. The mother’s that have inspired me. It’s a letter for you to share with the women in your life who are also taking on the gigantic and lovely role of motherhood.
I do not write to you with any sort of credentials beyond having had an incredible mother. To be sure, I don’t know all that much about children, I certainly have never been a mother myself, and sometimes just the notion of being a mom somewhere down the road is enough to make me anxious and panicky. We are who we are.
I don’t know all of you well. I don’t know your stories or your tastes or what makes you laugh the hardest. But I’ve seen you love your children, and that says a great deal. Certainly more than what you’re favorite movie or color is. I’ve seen you invest long hours in dance classes and music classes and cooking classes. I’ve seen you sing silly songs and speak in funny accents (or was that just me and my beautiful mom?). I’ve seen the tutu’s and cowboy boots and rain boots that you allow your children to wear because of the joy it brings them. Truly, I don’t know all of you, but I love you for the mother’s you are.
Some of you may have never intended to be mothers – others may have tried and tried and tried. Women come into motherhood in so many different ways, with so many different feelings and so many different fears. And I want to commend you, the mothers that I know, because no matter how you came to be a mother – if it came with tears of joy or tears of fear -, here you are: embracing this God-ordained role. Not without blunders, I’m sure, and perhaps not without glasses of wine after your littles have gone to bed, but you’re doing it. You’re shaping human beings. This fact literally blows my mind. Through you, God has created a person and He has asked you to dance with His daughters in your living room and kiss His sons when their knees get scraped. Because to be sure, those are not fully your children. They are His. Isn’t that insane? Mothers, don’t you just get chills thinking about that? My mother, perhaps partly because of how she came to be my mother, was always so acutely aware of the fact that I was first God’s daughter. When I left on a few different trips to Haiti and Nicaragua, she would say (albeit with tears in her eyes) “Even though I’m scared, I can let you go because I know that you are God’s”.
I’ve seen you laugh with your children. I’ve seen you play together and climb together and create together. I’ve seen you dedicate your babies to God, and I cry every single time. I’ve seen your children cry and yearn for you when you’ve gone to church or out to dinner and when you finally came back to them, I’ve seen them cling to you with every fiber of their tiny beings. You are their love of loves. And in a world where so many parents aren’t whole enough to be there for their children, my heart rejoices for your diligence and patience and willingness to sit on the floor and let your babies cry into your shoulder.
So many of you are creatives: building teepees and weaving and sewing and painting and photographing. Creatives and hard workers and doers. Truly the women that my path has crossed with are impressive. You may be a mother through and through, but you are still reaching for dreams and using the passions and talents that God has given you. Your dreams don’t need to be sidelined because you’re a mother. I promise, when your children see you working / creating / doing, you are teaching them something wildly important. And on the other side of that, even though you are a woman filled with abilities and dreams and ideas, you still allow yourself to first be a mother. Projects are sidelined, work deadlines are pushed back, because you have a job to do. You have boo boo’s to kiss and laughter to share. You ladies are a beautiful balance – a yin and yang – of being your own unique & lovely person, and being your child’s person.Your selflessness shines like a prism. You’re radiant in your love.
Children don’t know how to always thank their mother’s for the love that is invested (that is until they become older and write long winded blog posts), and those late nights of colds and fears and excitement may feel unnoticed. So, because you’re children may not yet know to say it, I will. Thank you. Thank you for loving your children well. Thank you for teaching them about Jesus, for protecting them, and for showing them that they are lovable. It’s noticeable. And it’s beautiful.