I just spoke to my friend Martha, and we are celebrating. Last week, her daughter received distressing news when she had an ultrasound of her first baby. We’ve been praying and sending the pregnancy out into the Universe, asking for God’s gracious grace. Today, they received the news that Martha’s little grandbaby in the womb is healthy and perfect. The relief in my dear friend’s voice was audible, and the situation made me think of how parenting is a “forever” job and how Martha’s daughter is having her first taste of that before her baby is even born.
We never ever stop being parents—once you have a child, you’re signed up for life and beyond. We moms suffer just as much when our child has a career setback at age 30 as we did when they fell and broke their arm at age 5. It doesn’t matter how old they are, what their circumstances are, or how many miles are between you and your kid, your heart aches when their life is hard and sings when they’re happy and fulfilled.
I didn’t believe this before I had my son. My mom moved 2,000 miles away from us when I was a newlywed. At the time, I didn’t get why she left, but I know now that she needed to change something in her life. She needed a big change and the time had come to do it. Her last kid had flown the nest, her career was sucking the life out of her with its dreary sameness, and her friends were retiring or moving on to other things. It was time for her to find herself.
With the arrogance of a twenty-something little snip, I didn’t understand how she could just leave her children in such a cavalier manner. Years later, armed with the wisdom of being a mom myself, I see now that she never really left us at all. We were still in her heart—the first thing she thought of each morning, the last thing in her head at night, and always, always we were in her prayers.
Sometimes though, it seemed as if she knew instinctively when I needed my mommy. A rough day at work, family or friend drama, coping with a sick baby—the phone would ring and I’d hear, “Hey babe, how’re you doing?” She was there, ready to mommy me. Selfish as I was then, I often cut her short, unwilling to share my problems with someone who’d abandoned me.
But about six months before she died so suddenly and unexpectedly, I went to visit her and we had the time of our lives together—mom and daughter. I finally understood the connection between mother and child because I have that connection with my son—a bond so unbreakable that miles, harsh words, or even years can’t ever destroy it. But it’s a bond that has to be nurtured and cared for and cherished. I didn’t do that with my mother, so when my son was born, I made a vow that we would never lose each other, not for one moment. And we haven’t…he is always in my heart and I am in his.
I know I’m still in Mom’s heart, too. She’s still watching over me like a guardian angel—she shows me in so many ways. The first time I felt her by me after she died was the day I got home from her funeral. Just off a plane, exhausted with grief and the long flight home, my husband handed me the mail that had arrived for me during the week I’d been gone. On top was an envelope addressed in a familiar hand. Now, the shocker was not only that I’d received a letter from my mother right after she’d died, but also that I’d gotten a letter from her at all. Mom never wrote, she phoned.
She’d sent it to me the weekend before when she was vacationing with friends, and it contained flower seeds in a postcard-type packet and a note:
Now don’t faint, but it’s your mom writing you a letter! I found these seeds and thought of you, so I decided to write. I could have just sent them as a post card, but I also found this great dragonfly stationery and wanted to share it. Hope the flower seeds give you pleasure. Enjoy! Enjoy!
She was still with me, speaking to me, making me smile, loving me. It’s a mom thing…