Inflexible, rigid, immovable, carved in stone…There’s a place for these, but in me is not that place. I’m meant to give. My body says so.
I’m meant to be flexible, able to bend against the storms of life and not snap.
I’m meant to be supple, easily folded, twisted and worked into shape.
I’m meant to be elastic, stretching without breaking as forces threaten to pull me apart.
I’m meant to be pliable, yielding to hands that refine and reshape as I’m put to use.
The world may call me a pushover, accusing me of giving way too easily, hesitating too much, bending too readily. “Stand firm for your convictions or the steamrollers of progress will flatten your good intentions, your bleeding heart, and your diplomacy,” it exhorts. “Dig in your heals and learn how to take a punch without flinching!”
That’s just not me. I’m made to bend, flex, stretch and yield. I’m meant to give so I don’t break, perhaps especially because my toes are wedged firmly under the cornerstone who is unmovable, firm and uncompromising.
In a world that seems often to spin out of control, it is good to know there is a place for solid rock.
All else is sinking sand.
You would have loved my mom. She was diligent and dutiful, industrious and ingenious, fashionable and fastidious, a loyal friend and devoted spouse.
If there were room-moms back then, she would’ve been a great one. If there were sports-Mom awards given, she would have been well-decorated. She cooked a mean pot roast, prepared an awesome peach pie and baked chocolate chip cookies like nobody’s business.
Nowadays, there are only a few folks who remember Mom because she left us in 1982. That was eight years before I became a mom, which may help explain how completely delighted but totally unprepared I was to be a mom. Diapers? Never done ’em. Naptime? Oh, they take ’em? Cribs? Bibs? Baths? High chairs? Pacifiers or thumbs? Nursing or bottles? Baby talk or big kid words? So many questions! It was a brave new world out there for me.
Books, of course I read them, but Dr. Spock along with What to Expect When You’re Expecting can only do so much. Nothing really prepares you for the unexpected, and those bundles of joy are the complete un-package. They foil you at every turn, then delight you at every opportunity. They have you totally wracking your brain (after you realize this is NOWHERE in any of the books) and completely surprise you when they solve it their own way. Somehow, they survive babyhood and so do you. This is nothing short of miraculous, really, given a mom’s resources and the magnitude of the task.
So, as we come upon Mother’s Day and I give thanks for my mom, I am particularly aware of so many other “moms” in my life who have lent their wisdom and kindness and a heaping dose of patience. I am thankful…
- For a step mom, ever at the ready, who was devoted to my dad and my kids
- For an aunt who called, cared, listened and even read chapters of my novel
- For a neighboring mom who invited me to the first church that got under my skin
- For my mom’s dearest friend, to whom my mom is still an ever-present companion
- For my friends who beautifully model what motherhood looks like and should be
This last makes me think of Mary Anne, a special friend, the wife of a pastor and mother to three boys, who now has a gaggle of grandchildren. Recently she was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. When she messaged me the news I was struck with complete disbelief. This vital woman, so engaged with her family, so alive in the church and so full of life…how could she have received this devastating news?
From a thousand miles away, there was nothing I could do or say, so I did what I do: I rode my bike as fast and as far as I could. All along the way I asked, Why, God? Why this woman? Why now? When she has given her whole life to her family, her friends, her husband, her church? Why this Mom?
That’s when God drew my attention to the tree in the distance. It stood all alone, branches bare of leaves, with limbs reaching proudly upward and outward. Without foliage, it reminded me of the future I saw for my friend, when she would lose her hair thanks to chemo and much of her body weight under the stress of illness.
I climbed off my bike, stood and stared. Looking at this tree, I God-imagined a nest in every branch. Each one securing its babies, some peeking out and cheeping to be fed, others wobbling to the edge to risk taking flight. How many young had this woman fledged? Not only her sons with their wives and young children, but dear friends she had walked beside: Bible study companions, congregation members, nearby neighbors and all of their children. I was certain that this woman had been mom to a vast array of children, including me, and including my children. She was the nesting tree. No illness would ever take that away.
This Mother’s Day, while I give thanks to God for my mom, I am especially grateful for the moms I know who labor in the nests of their lives with vigor, fortitude and creative aplomb. I smile to think of the moms my girls may someday be, praising God for the gift of Mary Anne and the many others who have taken me under-wing.
It’s what a mother does. It’s what we’re meant to do.
“I have so many choices facing me right now, Guiding God…I listen for your voice.
I listen with an open heart. I trust that you will guide me to the right choices. In this trusting, I am going to move out in faith and open the doors in front of me…
Ever present God, the process of opening doors begins now. Please help me discern the best choice.”
~ Patricia F. Wilson, Quiet Spaces
Heart beating fast, I fling open the doors.
The party has already started. In fact, from the look of things, it’s well underway. Everyone I love is here! Along with plenty whom I don’t know.
How do I enter? Where do I begin?
- Start at the first table and introduce myself around?
- Find someone I recognize and start a conversation there?
- Stand to the side and wait for someone to notice me?
- Find another who looks lonely and befriend them?
- See who’s in charge and ask where I’m to be seated?
Stepping gently, I wander in. Like I’ve hit a magic floorboard, the lights instantly dim and a spotlight illuminates me. A voice booms, “Wendy, welcome to the party! We’ve been expecting you.”
Oh, but look what I’m wearing, surely not fit for such an occasion. I squeeze my eyes tight against the blinding light and fold my arms around my body, much, much too late to cover the grubby shorts and sweaty t-shirt.
I am surrounded in intake of breath. No tittering and no guffaws, only silence. What are they staring at?
Must. Look. One squinting eye hazards a look toward my sneakers. Oh my. Oh my, no! What I’m wearing is glorious, glowing, flowing, lovely. I am the belle of the ball. Arms raised, eyes wide, I must spin, just one turn in Cinderella’s gown.
…Tablecloths grab, silverware flies, glassware and centerpieces crash to the ever-loving ground. Frozen, I stare at the mess I have made. How am I ever to be me dressed like this?
“Stand still, dear one. Don’t move. Let me look at you. You’re lovely just as you are.”
In an instant I am back at my desk with pen in hand, jotting notes for the next article and planning the next training session. T-shirt, shorts and sneakers …ah, glorious.
Now, we return you to your regularly scheduled program, already in progress.