In May, we celebrate mothers, but I like to think of it as a month for all women. Whether you are a mother or a grandmother or have a mother or a grandmother – this month is for you, beautiful lady!
They say that there are four stages of every woman’s life. Though we may enter them at different ages, and some of us spend more time in certain stages than others, if we are given enough time on this Earth, we will all go through each of these eventually:
i) We want to be just like our mother
ii) We want to be nothing like our mother
iii) We become exactly like our mother (in at least some ways)
iv) We would give anything for another day with our mother
As little girls we watch our mothers getting dressed, putting on make up, and curling their hair, and we imagine the day we will be just like them. Sometimes we even get dressed up in their high heeled shoes and walk around the house filled with excitement preparing for the day.
As teenagers and young women, we begin to believe we know it all and our mothers seem outdated and even irrational at times. We question everything about them – from their fashion sense to their political views – and we sometimes disagree with them if for no other reason than to exert our independence. We swear we will never be like them.
Then, despite the many promises we make to ourselves that we will never become like our mothers – we do. It happens to us all. Perhaps it’s the outfit you find yourself in or the way you’re styling your hair these days. Perhaps it’s the tone of your voice or the words passing through your lips. Whatever it is, you will find yourself taking pause in the middle of a crowed room realizing she had an impact on you. It’s inevitable.
Finally, we find ourselves without a mother, longing for just one more day. It’s been said that no matter how good or bad your relationship with your mother, you will miss her when she’s gone. I believe that to be true.
So, what can we take from this to ensure we make the most of each stage of our lives?
I don’t profess to have all the answers, but as someone who has found herself in each of these four stages, let me share a few things I have learned.
God has entrusted us with precious souls. Our sons want to marry us, our daughters want to be us. We must walk in a manner that is worthy of our Lord. (This does not only apply to mothers, but to Christians in general, since all of us are watched likewise by new converts.) Let your conduct always be pleasing to God.
We all make mistakes – even mothers. Maybe especially mothers. Even the best mothers in the world are not perfect – they are still sinners. However, we must never overlook the good in our mother. If we are doomed to become exactly like her, we must extract the good and learn how to channel that into our adult lives.
Since we never know how much time we will have with our mothers, we must cherish every moment. Take pictures with her, spend time with her, hug her, listen to her stories, and memorize her voice and her smell. Just trust me on this one – someday you will miss all those things.
Finally, I leave you with one last thought, which I illustrate with this short story.
Mother’s Day wasn’t important to me growing up, but after I became a Christian and started a family of my own, that changed. For many years, I went all out to ensure my mother felt special on Mother’s Day and knew just how grateful I was for her. I would make it a full event–church service in the morning, brunch at my place, special outings, gifts, cake, and always a little something I had made with my own two hands – for old times’ sake.
The year I lost my mother was no exception. Though she was frail, she insisted on spending Mother’s Day with my family. The handmade gift I gave her that year was a large jar of Hershey’s Kisses with a prescription label on it that instructed her to take one whenever she needed to feel loved – at least once per day. There were probably 150 kisses in the jar, and each one had a little note attached to the tail.
When I handed her that gift, she immediately summoned enough strength to open the jar. She pulled out one of the kisses, detached the note, read it aloud, and then, looked up at me with a face filled with tears. I quickly wrapped my arms around her, and we cried together amid a house filled with people.
I will never forget the words on that first prescribed chocolate: I’m sorry if I ever hurt you.
It took me many years to realize why those words had such an impact that Mother’s Day morning.
Then just this week, it dawned on me. My mother was far from perfect. She made her fair share of mistakes and, as the youngest of all her children, I went along for the ride.
My childhood was unstable. I went without a lot of things. We moved a lot, forcing me to go to several new schools. There were a lot of new guys in our lives – some for short periods, others for longer, but none were my dad. She drank frequently. I was alone often. But we made it through.
As my mother read the words on that tiny piece of paper aloud, “I’m sorry if I ever hurt you,” I think she realized what my actions all those years had been demonstrating – I forgave her.
She didn’t have to ask. She didn’t even have to deserve it. When I became a Christian, without even consciously realizing it, I forgave my mother for it all.
And so, as a mother and a daughter who has lost a beloved mother, I have learned that what your mother wants most from you is not flowers or chocolate or jewelry. It’s attention and love and your genuine and unconditional forgiveness for all the mistakes she has made.
I mean, after all, isn’t that what we all want?
Post written by Colleen Decker