Yesterday was Mother’s Day. To every Listening on YOUR Journey reader who’s ever been a mom—biological, adoptive or ‘mother of the heart’— I want to wish you a belated Happy Mother’s Day.
My 2016 Mother’s Day included visiting my dear mama who’s in the hospital, recovering from a cracked pelvis. I feel extra blessed this year to have a devoted, Godly mother.
During my lifetime, I’ve played many roles. Without a doubt, my three favorite have been those of wife, mother and grandmother. God blessed me with two remarkable daughters. They have grown from precious babies into lovely, gracious, wise and devoted wives and mothers.
As I reflect back on the years when my girls were growing up, I realize I wasn’t always the best mom. I made many mistakes, most made due to ignorance. Even though I often erred, I know I usually did the best I knew how to do at the time—although, I also know my broken humanity sometimes got in the way!
In 2005, an article I wrote was published in a book called Soul Matters for Mothers. I decided to share it with you today.
My daughter’s thirteenth birthday approached much too quickly. Despite my reluctance, I was soon to be a teenager’s mom. The mere thought created angst!
“If only we were Jewish,” I moaned to no one in particular, “we could celebrate a bat mitzvah”—that significant rite of passage bridging the often-turbulent chasm separating girl and woman. The special thirteenth birthday blowout I’d planned for my beloved daughter just didn’t seem meaningful enough. Finally, I determined, I’d write a letter to this precious child, whom I knew must begin untying those apron strings sooner than I’d like.
“Dearest Angie,” my letter began, “Today you are thirteen!” The ensuing paragraphs recalled the anticipation and wonder of her birth, the joy I’d felt watching her learn, grow, and blossom into lovely budding womanhood. I cautioned her to make wise choices, so aware that impetuous youthful passion can result in a lifetime of regrets. I wished her a life of lasting love. Carefully, I composed, edited and typed motherly memories, hopes, and dreams for this elder daughter—joy of my heart.
On the eve of her landmark birthday, I finished the letter and signed it with “Mom” and a loopy heart. Very early in the morning I carefully folded the letter, slipped it into an envelope, wrote “Happy Birthday, Angie” on the front and quietly taped it to her bedroom door. Angie, with characteristic exuberance, upon discovering the letter, tore it from the door, read it on the run, burst into tears, and hugged me furiously, exclaiming, “Mommmmm, that’s soooo nice!”
Eight years later, I was composing a second, “Today you are Thirteen” letter—this time to my equally precious younger offspring, Sarah. From birth, Sarah has exhibited a resolute and organized but quiet and gentle temperament. Upon finding her letter, my sleepy-eyed new teen slowly removed it from her bedroom door, carried it to the family room sofa, leisurely curling up in the corner. She neatly opened her birthday letter, Mom looking on in anxious anticipation. Carefully, my daughter digested her mother’s heartfelt, love-filled wishes. Then slowly, Sarah looked at me, and softly remarked, “That’s nice, Mom.”
Did my letters matter? I wondered. Months later, I realized that Sarah’s had when I notice the letter among a stack of papers on her desk, a sticky note affixed with her reminder, Read this every year on birthday. A few years later, I was helping Angie organize some linens following the birth of her first child. There lay her letter, neatly placed with other special mementos in the corner of her cedar chest.
How the years slip stealthily into yesterdays! So soon, I found myself grandmother to three amazing children, equally precious as their mommy and Auntie Sarah had been. In less than two years, my oldest will be a teenager, and already, I am beginning to mentally compose another “Today you are Thirteen” letter.
Note: Since I wrote this article eleven years ago, I’ve been blessed with two more precious grand kids. When my first granddaughter’s thirteenth birthday was approaching, I tried to write her a special letter, but it simply wasn’t working for me. I concluded the Today-you-are-Thirteen-Letter tradition was meant to be limited to my two daughters.
Blessings on your journey of motherhood…
The rich fragrance from this beautiful bouquet of lilacs seemed to permeate every corner of our home. Please, consider them a gift from me to you this day-after Mother’s Day.