I have recently achieved “Meanest Mommy EVER” status (because I wouldn’t let the dear child wear sweats to church). One of my prouder moments actually. Usually, however, my girls lavish me with love and the words, “You’re the best mommy ever.” My heart thinks, No ladies, unfortunately I’m not even close, but thank you for telling me. Grandmommy is the best mommy ever.
There was one time, when I was five or six, I was really mad at Mom and I told my grandmother, “I wish I had a different mommy.” I thought for sure my grandmother would be on my side, but Grandmom wisely asked, “If you could choose another mom, who would it be?” When it was clear I couldn’t come up with an answer, she said, “There’s nobody better than your mom.” Grandmom never spoke any truer words.
Isn’t it funny how, at some undefinable point, you start seeing your parents not just as Mom and Dad, but as actual people with thoughts and feelings, dreams and fears? Somehow the lens of mommyhood shows me more clearly how hard life must have been at times for Mom while my brother, sister and I were growing up. My dad was in the Army most of our lives. He was sent to Viet Nam for a year right after I was born, leaving Mom with a three year-old son and a newborn—and a fairly fussy one, I hear. Thanks also to the Army, we had to move around a few times. Between my fourth and fifth grades, I went to four different schools within 365 days. Moving three times with three young kids, to a different state and then to another country? Seriously, how did she do that? On the positive side, we did get to live in Germany and I got to visit the folks several times when they had to suck it up in Hawaii.
Looking back, one thing I really admire is how she and my dad handled the problem of my failing kidneys. They let me live my life and never told me I couldn’t do anything because of my medical condition (they certainly said no for other reasons). They gave me the freedom to be me, to try what I wanted, to work, to travel without them, to go out and have fun with my friends, to go away to college, make decisions—including some really important ones about my medical care. They didn’t overprotect or smother me because I was sick. How were they able to give me that kind of love? The way they handled my illness did not allow my natural shyness to turn into a complete fear of living. They taught me to live through difficult times. It has been a lesson that has served me well many times over.
Last year at about this time, my sister and I went to visit my parents. We went with them to meet with Mom’s doctor. As suspected, the pancreatic cancer had returned, but spread. “Statistically”, the doctor told us, she had roughly six months to live whether she received treatment or not. It was the most difficult thing I have ever had to hear. The problem, other than the prognosis, was that she didn’t look, sound or act sick at all. There was no way for my brain to piece together what I was seeing and what I was hearing.
Thank the Lord, she is still with us and doing pretty well, amazing her doctor who calls her the “mysterious woman”. Unfortunately, there are times when she is in much pain, but she continues to handle this illness like everything else she has faced in life—with much grace. She is a woman of great strength and courage, yet gentle and kind. She has an adventurous spirit but is a calming presence. She is a beautiful woman who has given me a wonderful example of how to go through life.
There is nobody better than my mom.
Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise. Proverbs 31:28-31