I am "that" mom. You know. The one who saved every daily progress report from her daughters' pre-school. The one who saved every coloring sheet from kindergarten. The one who saved every pair of ballet slippers, even the ones that smelled like a dirty gym bag. The one who actually saved the tiny paper holes her 5-year-old sat on the floor punching for HOURS! Yep. I saved it all.
Except for the afternoon I didn't.
I'd had a day. In the newsroom where I worked as an anchor, I'd faced one obstacle after another. On the drive home, I'd hit every red light and traffic jam, and gotten behind every bobo driver on the road. My day had been filled with clutter.
While unpacking the girls' things I pulled out a fistful of coloring papers. I just couldn't face the idea of any more clutter. So, I (gasp) looked over my shoulder, saw the coast was clear, opened the kitchen waste can, moved the things on top around, stuffed the papers inside, and covered them up. It was just one day's worth of coloring papers, right? I felt so guilty, I almost pulled them back out. Almost.
A while later, she came bounding into the kitchen. At some point, she opened the waste can and... you guessed it! She spied the papers, dug them out, turned her sweet little face and big blue eyes up to me and said, "Mommy! Why did you throw my art away? Don't you like it?"
Moments like that make you realize just how important the job of mothering is. Children, regardless of their age, look to us not just for love, but for guidance, encouragement, and even validation. We have to be mindful of our words and actions, even when we are tired or upset. Our words and actions have the power to wound or to heal. Healing words can change a life for the better. Wounds from words may take a lifetime to heal if they ever do.
Yes, mothering is a big job. We face sleepless nights ruled by a colicky 3-month-old. We face fearful nights the first time our teenager drives away in the family car by herself. We face heartbreaking nights when our child cries herself to sleep because of hurt feelings, lost love, or the cruelties of life.
But, we also face deliriously happy times. The first smile, tooth, or step. The way they look for you when they score on the soccer field, dance stage, or spelling bee. The nights they poke their head in your bedroom to say "I'm home, Mom. Night, I love you."
Mothering is a big job. The stakes are high. You're handed this tiny, wrinkled little bundle of newness and you panic, thinking, "Okay.. what now?" Then you pray that you won't mess it up. You pray that somehow, God will give you the wisdom- and the wits - to raise this living, breathing creation of amazing wonderfulness into a bright, happy, productive human being. You pray. Then you pray again.
I'll never forget the mornings my daughters were born. When they were handed to me, they looked straight into my eyes. From that moment on, we were forever connected- not by an umbilical cord, but by a connection stronger than any piece of steel. We were connected- through thick and thin, good times and bad, joy and sorrow. My daughters are the only two people who have ever heard my heartbeat from the inside. I love them just as much today as I did the mornings they were born. More- if that's even possible.
And, God must have heard my prayers. Because I did mess up. I said words I shouldn't have. I didn't say words I should have. I gave bad advice. I lost my cool. I tossed coloring papers in the trash. But, God, and my daughters, were bigger than my mistakes. My girls, Avery and Lauren, have grown into beautiful, bright, happy, successful young women.
Am I still "that" mom? You bet. I keep every text, email, and card I receive from them. I press flowers they send me in wax paper, frame their artwork from years gone by, and fill up my office and home with books and bibles from their childhood. Clutter? Absolutely not. They are cherished memories of a lifetime of love and laughter. They are a reminder that we continue to make new memories... as mother and daughters, and as friends. And, on this Mother's Day, I give thanks to God that He placed these incredible human beings in my life. I am better for having known- and grown- them.
Happy Mother's Day? You bet it is.