Monday, May 9, 2011

Day 125: Dear Mom

I'd rather be sleeping than writing right now, but Max has other ideas. After giving me a fitting 5:30am wake up call for Mother's Day, he has now informed me that I'm mistaken about bed time. This despite the fact that he slept beautifully until the very minute I was ready to also get some rest. So let me first say this, Mom. Thanks for all the sleepless nights you endured for me, and for being much more patient with me, I'm sure, than I feel with him right now!

There wouldn't be time or space to relay all the ways you've shaped me as a woman and mother, but I'll share a few that are most important to me.

You embody "mom" like no other woman I've ever met. And I mean that in all the good ways and none of the bad ones. (How you've managed to avoid mom jeans for so many years is beyond me!) The home-cooked meals, the words of wisdom and encouragement, the well of patience that never seems to run dry, the empathy that only a mother could're a real-life June Cleaver.

I grew up watching you serve our family, church, friends, and pretty much anyone you met without a word of complaint and without looking for an ounce of recognition. Your motives were always pure, never tainted with a desire for approval or applause. You genuinely want the best for everyone around you, and you're willing to sacrifice your own time and resources to help them get there - what a rare quality. This taught me the value of selflessness and the joy that can come out of giving and being a part of someone else's joy. I never could have known that choosing another over myself could be so self-satisfying had I not seen it in you, and if I learn to put it into practice half as often as you, I'll consider it a victory.

You are bar none the most trustworthy person on the planet. I've always been able to share things with you, confident that it would be locked away in your vault forever. This is one of your qualities that defines our relationship, because the security of knowing my privacy is valued and protected, that I will never be betrayed, has allowed me to be open with you. You are my safe place, my confidant, and my best friend, because I never have to think twice about what I say or how. You're always quick to praise my loyalty, and I want you to know that it was born out of what I experienced with you.

It always amazes me when you get life stories in the grocery line. You emanate warmth and kindness, so I guess it shouldn't be surprising that people are drawn to that and want to open up. You're as approachable to a stranger as you are to a friend, and I like to think I've been working my way in that direction as I watch you. You always have time for people who need you, and you taught me to value people and relationships above all else.

You did so much for us - working from home so you could be with us and even homeschooling us - and yet you never lost yourself. You gave us everything we needed and reserved enough to give to your marriage, your studio, music, gardening, workouts, and whatever else you've found energizing or been passionate about over the years. I'm so thankful for the incredible love you had for us, and even more thankful that you didn't let it consume you. You showed me that being a mother doesn't mean giving your life up, but adding to it and modifying it. Because of you my definitions of woman and mother are multidimensional and fluid - there is no box for me to get stuck in. This opened my life to possibilities, and it's the reason I was able to pursue an education and a family, passions and children.

It was your commitment to my education that brought me to where I am. No school, public or private, could have given me what you did at home, and I reap the benefits every single day. Because of you the natural curiosity and desire to learn that I, like all children, was born with were protected and nurtured. You taught me to think critically, ask questions, self-teach, reach beyond what I "should" know, and follow my abilities and passions. I'm proud to say that these are now many of my defining characteristics, and I hope you're proud they came from you.

You have been my life's greatest cheerleader. You told me over and over that I was capable of anything I put my mind to, and the confidence I've grown into started with that seed planted by you. You always encouraged me and supported me; my world is limitless and I owe it to you.

Our relationship has bounced back from things that it shouldn't have been able to survive, and all because of your infinite capacity to forgive and love unconditionally. There were times I knew I disappointed you, embarrassed you, even grieved you, but I never once questioned whether your love would be waiting for me on the other side. You were my first experience of Jesus' perfect love and His forgiveness that has washed my slate clean, and you are the reason I want so badly for my own children to feel Him through me. When I knew I was unworthy, when I knew I deserved judgment you showered me with nothing but compassion. Experiencing your forgiveness is what made His grace real to me, and there aren't words to express my gratitude for that. Every time I fall flat on my face, I'm able to pick myself up and move forward because of what you taught me with your forgiveness and the continual flow of God's grace. My relationship with my own children is dependent on this, and I have you to thank for it.

I'm convinced that were it not for your trust in God, you would not have survived my young adulthood. Now having my own children and experiencing that intense drive to make their worlds safe and happy, I can finally imagine what it was like to sit back and watch me make so many mistakes, some with lifelong consequences. I can finally understand how desperately you must have wanted to protect me from those things and how you must have wanted to take the wheel and tap the brakes. For all the heartache, yours and mine, that came with some of my choices, I'm so thankful that you allowed me space to make mistakes and grow on my own. It's only because of the freedom you gave me and because you patiently waited through the worry, disappointment and sadness I'm sure you carried that I can point to so many defining moments of my life. I only hope I have the courage give that same gift to my children.

And finally, Mom, your humility is my inspiration - for this blog and for my life. You are always willing to lower yourself to raise someone else up. You're never too good for anyone or anything. You accept criticism with an open heart. You are a living breathing illustration of how beautiful humility really is. And, like all the other qualities I just listed, I will consider myself successful if I can embrace and embody it through my journey half as well as you have.

So happy belated Mother's Day! (Max did finally decide it was bedtime half way through posting last night) No one deserves a day reserved in her honor more than you.

And like I told Dad: If you ever think I'm getting down on you through this process or if you carry any personal regrets, remember you're the one who helped me become who I am - a person willing and determined to embrace humility, chase growth and never let good enough satisfy. Know that I don't harbor any of those same regrets and that I'm thankful for all of the experiences that shaped me. And every time you're proud of me, take credit. My achievements are as much yours as they are mine.

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