It's Not About the Cookies
Mother's Day... Another holiday that brings a swinging pendulum of emotions. For some, it is a day of cozy celebration with the lady who gave them it all. Kissed their boo boos; made those piles of cookies; and launched them well-prepared for the demanding world of "adulting". For others, the day brings sadness over the absence of that very special lady. A reminder of calls that won't be answered; memories that won't be made; and cards left unpurchased. Still others will steel themselves against the grieving of a mom they never had. No hugs goodnight; no plates of cookies; no Hallmark card moments to look back on and celebrate. I know people that fit into each of these descriptions this year. So, as I sat down to write a Mother's Day blog post, I asked myself, "What common thread is here?" And that's....story. Each of us has a unique-to-us, extraordinary story to tell. It matters very much how that story played out, and how those early relationships played out. They matter, because you matter. Whether your view of Mother's Day is rose-hued or a brick wall... It matters.
My husband has some pretty great memories of his mom. (Not many, because he doesn't remember half of his childhood... Or what we did last month for that matter.) But, when he pulls something randomly out of his magic hat of memories, it is fun to pay attention and listen. One that we hear a lot is of the time he rode his bike through a church window where they were pastoring. Five-year-old Daron blamed "a birdie". But had to confess soon after because his guilty conscience was too much to bear. His mom (and dad's) response is always part of what stands out as a theme of their parenting style. There was always a clear understanding that discipline would be a consequence of disobedience. Yet, also just as clear, was the understanding that love was not conditional on behavior. Daron says he never doubted that he was loved because it was communicated one way or another often. That's even better than a plate piled high with cookies!! Love-communicated is a beautiful environment for a developing child to be saturated in. But what about those kids who have no plate of cookies? (The plate of cookies really isn't the point, FYI. It's the time and attention that goes into that gesture. I'm just using it metaphorically. And, because I'm on a new healthy eating plan, and I'm hungry.)
For a couple of years, I worked at a girl's juvenile home. I was basically a House Mom on the weekends for teen moms, teens who had gotten into trouble with authority, and girls in the Foster system that were waiting for a home to open up. Man! I loved those girls. I still consider those years to be some of the most special years of my life. So what if I cried every Friday night before work on Saturday...wondering if this was the weekend I'd get caught in the middle of a scuffle and get beat up?! When Saturday morning came, something switched and I was there!! In two years, I only had one situation that escalated into a forceful incident. Even then, the girl came back on her own to apologize. See? Most of these girls came from the "no cookies" kind of homes. They were used to hugging themselves at night; they made their own cookies; and, they were the mommies to their younger siblings. They were kids and yet already responsible beyond their years. I know a little bit about that story, too. So, each weekend my goal was to give these girls a safe place to relearn trust. A person who would be consistent and respect them even when they pushed back. I still get to hear from some of "my girls" from time to time; and, I'll always have a warm place in my heart for them. Cause I got to be their in-between-momma of sorts. Not always for long, but that's the thing about life. We don't always have a lot of time for making a difference or for do-overs. It's really about taking the moments we are given and making them count. Not disregarding what is real and true. But feeling the moments fully and learning from them profoundly.
My own mom models this beautifully. During my growing up years, there was some unfortunate and sad family dysfunction. (We have shared our family’s story in public-forum talks in an effort to shine a light on this often-avoided subject.) There are plenty of moments when my mom could wish for the “do-over” for certain things. But, we can’t undo the past. We can, however, live intentionally from today forward. Mom lives this out in the present in the ways she shows love; boundaried living; the prayer-burden she carries for her grown kids; and so much more. If you are a mom this mother’s day who only remembers the regrets, can I encourage you to learn from my own sweet momma?
Learn from the past; but live in the present. Love your kids now in practical, felt ways. Pray for them. Don’t ignore past hurts, yet don’t dwell on them. Be consistent. Do your own work. Support them in theirs. On this Mother's Day, no matter where you may find yourself on the spectrum, I pray you will lean into this day. That if you have those cozy memories, you will embrace the joy of blessings remembered. That if your heart is breaking, you will allow the grief to come. And, if you are once again alone in a Hallmark aisle where nothing seems to fit, give yourself grace as you face past hurts. And, whatever the emotion, know you are not alone today. In the good and the bad, there is One Who knows your name and my name. One Who weeps with us in our sorrows. One Who rejoices with us in our laughter. May this Mother's Day be one of blessing and unexpected joy.....and a plate full of cookies!
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