I am a mother of 3 biological children add my other children I was blessed with through marriage, I have quite a crew. Ages varying from later twenties to youngest being thirteen. Lately there has been some challenges. I am sure I as well as many of other moms out there could write a series of books regarding the many challenges of motherhood. That is a good project for a different day. What I do want to do is speak of what is in my heart that I have experienced through my latest challenges and what those challenges showed me.
My thirteen year old is a beautiful, strong minded, sassy mini version of myself, God help me AND her. I did a lot of praying for myself regarding this fact. It’s funny but not funny as I call my own mom in frustration, asking her how to ensure not only I survive these very trying, hair pulling, crying, screaming, times with battle of the mind challenges, but how to ensure the thirteen year old survives to grow older as well. She always replies with the same candid answer (I’m sure with the biggest cheesiest grin on her face on the other side of the phone) which annoys me with its truth equally, each time she reminds me…. she says ” Shanna, don’t you remember being the same way at that age? ” “Don’t you remember how you did those things to me when you were her age?” Painfully it comes flooding back and I indeed remember EXACTLY being that age. It is no secret being thirteen is no piece of cake for the child who is going through all the changes and at the same time trying to establish who they are but I have come to respect and hold my mother in a completely different light than I EVER did before. Not only because in raising my own thirteen year old daughter do I see first hand what my mother endured from myself but it brings so many more things to light.
Being the mother of a twenty five year old, married with children her own ,well this too reminds me…. still even at this age and well through my thirties did I indeed present challenges for my mother. I have learned that as a mother you endure different challenges, different worries, different heartbreaks, different struggles and I am guessing these continue throughout our entire lives as mothers. I have experienced some of the same worries and challenges my mom had to struggle through with me. The statement regarding how as mothers we worry even about our grown children couldn’t be more true.
The new unfamiliar challenge for me is being the mom of a United States Marine. With this challenge comes overwhelming pride and respect and yet still a worry that I’m not even sure I can put into words. My heart goes out to EVERY military mother out there!
Then there’s another challenge being a stepmom… I struggle more being that all my step children are pretty much grown. I struggle for a couple different reasons, one, I do not like terms such as step mom or step dad etc. I kind of look at it in the way of that saying, it takes a village to raise a child. I do not treat my biological children different from my non-biological children. I love them all and will be as much a part of them as they each allow me to be. I will and do show them guidance as they seek it. I am consistant in trying to make sure that no matter what they know they are loved biological or not. I treat them as if they were my own. The other struggle in this matter is trying to be there in addition to their own biological mothers not trying to take the place of, or step on toes. I hope in my heart that they know, just as they do, I only want the best for them. I promise in todays times of everyone being offended about every little thing this is not an easy task to face. I can only stay true to myself and be the person I am and love them still with all my heart.
My point should start becoming pretty clear here. Motherhood is the single most demanding and challenging blessing God has ever bestowed upon a person. Mothers endure and experience so many different emotions and challenges. They become a jack of all trades, they are moms, chefs, maids, councelors,teachers, referees, their childs biggest cheerleader and their childs biggest, most devoted fan club, however they are also their punching bags retorically speaking. In looking back through the experiences I am going through with my own children, I have realized just what a gift a mother truly is. I would be such a complete mess and so lost without mine.
I have thankfully grown enough in my journey that I can now see full circle what an incredible gift my mother is to me and how blessed I have been. It makes me appreciate the woman she is. She is an angel sent from above and I mean that literally. I know we all have hard jobs as mothers and we all do our best, just like all else in life some have more of a challenge than others. We all have our incredible qualities that stand out in each of our journeys through motherhood. My mother has the undeniable gift, the ability to love unconditionally. She is a Godly woman. She loves her family despite the challenges that come with what family has become in todays times. She loves those who have made her their enemy often without valid reason. She loves people because God expects us to love one another as fellow human beings. She does this with an incredible amount of grace. If your eyes and mind and heart are open enough to see it, I promise it is an amazing thing to witness and be a part of. It makes me take a long hard honest look in the mirror. Watching this amazing woman act in this manner through all the years of horrific challenges I put her through, along with the unmeasurable amount of hurt bestowed upon her makes me very aware of the work I have instore for myself. She is aware of her struggles with hurt and anger but still in the end exudes only love and grace.
How does she do it? I know that answer, she does it with God’s help. In watching her and listening to her when she shares her relationship with God and how he has helped her, it brought me to know I needed and want that relationship with God as well. It isn’t for everyone sadly, but to each his own. I can only do what God asks and that is continue to share what he has done for me in my life. I will forever be grateful for the mercy and grace I have been shown and that I came to realize I needed his guidance and that his love is the purest kind of love there is. I am thankful to my mother for that because she by example showed me the way. I didn’t always agree or understand until it came time for me to be ready to.
We grow up, have families of our own and before we know it time has gotten away from us. Truth of the matter is so many of us are guilty of being reminded yearly when Mother’s day rolls around that we need to make mom feel special. Is one day really enough to honor her for all she does for us throughout our lives? I don’t know about you….just because I’m a forty something year old woman doesn’t mean I dont need my mother anymore. It doesn’t mean I don’t still need her wisdom and guidance at times. It doesn’t mean I don’t need her listening ear or her shoulder to cry on. I will always need her, even after she leaves this earth. It reminds me that there should never be one minute that goes by no matter if we aren’t seeing eye to eye, that she shouldn’t know her value to me.
As I experience raising my own own children and all that includes it shows me up front and personal the value that a Mother truly holds. Her sacrifices of herself, her selflessness, her sleepless nights, her private tears she cries. Her times of work to provide and the sacrifice she faces related to that. Then when she is done with that (which is never) she becomes a grandmother and does it all over again.
Do we really ever stop and truly think about what a gift our mother’s are to us? Many of us lose our mother’s prematurely. Sadly some are not blessed with the privilege of having their mother in their life. My heart breaks for them. If I didn’t have my mother, I would never have made it to where I am today. If I could just be half the woman she is then I might be able to say I’ve succeeded. If I could just have an ounce of her grace and her heart, I could be proud. She is my angel God chose to guide me and show me the way.
She’s a blessing that keeps on giving….
A mother’s love.