The day sticks so clearly in my memory and I pray that I always remember it. For I mark it as one of those days when I truly saw my mom as a real person.
Don't get me wrong: I always knew my mom was a person. That is to say, a person who was my mom. But it took me the better part of my life to fully grasp that she was also a person outside of being my mom.
There's many parts of motherhood for which no one can truly prepare you. (Now, if you're not a mom yourself, I beg you to not roll your eyes at this point and stop reading. Because this isn't a post about being a mom; it's a post about appreciating a mom.) One of those parts for which I was not prepared – perhaps someone tried to tell me at some point but I had simply failed to listen – was just how much stepping into the parenting world myself would cast a different light on my own mom. I realize that it's not this way for everyone. It is quite possible that becoming a mom made you realize just how much your own mom lacked or just how greatly she let you down. I pray that's not that case, but if it is, I am truly sorry. Unfortunately, sin touches motherhood as it does everything in this earthly life when things like selfishness, impatience and fear creep in and cloud judgement. Sometimes, this sin derails even the most important of jobs such as that of parenting, resulting in extreme disappointment and emotional (or physical) scars which can never be erased.
However, that is not my story. I am absolutely blessed to be able to say that God gave me a mother who lives to serve others and would give anything for those she loves, even at her own expense. In my case, motherhood has given me an appreciation for my own mom which I never would have had without the knowledge of “the other side” of the parent-child relationship. And while I never doubted she loved me, I don't know that I personally have ever understood just what that meant until my adult years.
But there's more. Just when I felt as though I had learned to fully appreciate my mom, she asked me if I would help her update her resume. Being a registered nurse, my mom had held various demanding positions in my childhood years, however, one thing had remained constant: her faith and her family were her priority. On this day several years ago, my mom found herself in a job which did not make full use of her skills and in a workplace which consistently took advantage of its best employees. Of course, I had said, not knowing if I was more thrilled at the thought of her moving on to better things or flattered that she would ask for my assistance.
We sat there at my table, I on my laptop and her recounting her past achievements and involvement in the medical community. I typed, she spoke. I smiled to myself as I thought about the “role reversal” playing out there in my dining room, remembering days gone by when I would plead for her to type my school reports since she was soooooo much faster than I was. As I formatted the information in a way that I thought made sense and she continued, I marveled at all she had done. How did I not know any of this? How had I missed the extra classes she had taken, the certifications she had received, all of the knowledge she had acquired, much of it having happened in the years I had spent at home growing up? I sat there astounded.
This woman, who I call mom, was a fully whole, accomplished and independent woman apart from her title as a mom. Did her role as a mother play a vital part in her human make-up? Definitely. Would she still always be first and foremost “mom” in my mind and possibly hers as well? Sure. But there were a full twenty-five years which occurred prior to her becoming a mother that still mattered and still very much affected who she is today.
If you're a daughter with an incredible mother, I challenge you to truly see her. Even if it's buried deep inside somewhere, she's still a real person apart from being your mom. Ask her about her past, what she dreams about and who she still wants to become. You may be surprised at the answer.
If you're a daughter with a not-so-incredible mother, I challenge you to forgive her. For she is a sinful human being just like the rest of us and has her own personal demons she battles on a daily basis -- many or possibly all of them, may have nothing to do with you. And then pray that God helps you to accept this relationship for what it is and if He wills it, to guide you as to how you may begin to rectify it.
If you're a daughter who has lost her mom or is currently dealing with an ailing mom, I challenge you to reflect on the life she led and remember the good parts, the parts which taught you the most. And then thank God that He saw fit to bless you with such a relationship and that He has worked the best parts of her into you.
If you're a mom to littles, I challenge you to not forget who you were before becoming a mom. That person may seem lost right now but someday, you will see her again and you'll want to remember what she looks like ;) Find time for a hobby, even if it only happens for five minutes out of every week. Someday it will be really important for your children to learn who you are apart from them.
If you're an empty nester (or soon-to-be one), I challenge you to find yourself apart from your children again. Are they still an important part of your life? Most definitely. But there are also still things that make you you apart from them. You just have to have the courage to explore the parts of you which may have been asleep for the past 18+ years.
Wherever you are at in your mother-daughter relationship, I pray that you are able to reflect on that relationship and see how God has guided and molded you through it. For regardless of who your mom is or was, she, too, was created by God with a unique purpose. And that’s worth learning about.