By Myles Grant /Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons
After 20 years of homeschooling and 11 children, I was thinking of all that has happened in those years. I think most of us moms share in the same frustration of mess, more mess and some more mess and finding who is responsible for the mess and tidying up the mess.
As Mother’s day approaches, I recall a moment in my life when I understood what went into making a “mess”.
One evening before dinner, my 10 year old slammed down the cutlery on the counter and took off saying, “There’s no way I’m setting the table with that mess!” I put the dinner on hold and investigated the crime scene.
She was right. The table surface was no longer visible with stuff strewn on it. I sat down. Dinner was ready, it was the end of the day, tempers were frazzled. I didn’t know whether I should scream or cry. It was then I looked at the table.
At one end someone’s homework was opened, with text books, binders, pencils, calculator. Next to that someone had been making paper dolls leaving evidence of craft paper, scissors, glue, crayons. Across from this was someone’s Lego project, one of numerous Lego projects from the boys.
Close to me some of the girls were in the middle of making some braided bracelets and various coloured skeins of embroidery thread were intermingled with Lego. Filling the rest of the table was someone’s poster project from school with printed pictures ready to be cut out.
Someone or something had distracted them from all this activity.
As I took all this in, I didn’t see it as a mess anymore. I saw people’s lives on the table who were busy, creative, using their time well and being with each other as they worked. I called them up to put their things away. I knew dinner was going to be late but I couldn’t be angry. I was happy to be a mom, blessed by my children’s lives
A tumble of years
As I reflect upon my 36 years of motherhood I recall the wonder and awe of the first and subsequent nine live births of my children, and the sadness and joy of one child attaining heaven early.
The years were filled with excitement, chaos, happiness, worry, you name it, every lived emotion good and bad. A tumble of years and growing – stitches, casts, trophies, laughing, family games, summers at the cottage with family and friends, not so good report cards and great ones, lost teeth, public speaking nights (Ugh! 10 times over), kindergarten, grade eight, high school, college and university graduations, parking tickets, cars in ditches, medical emergencies, chronic diseases, heartbreaks, new dates, weddings and grandchildren.
Who would have thought that a loving, lived to the full life could happen so fast. I regret nothing, but thank God for every new day and the gift of children. They made me who I am – a mother still in the making.
Of course I didn’t do this alone but had the collaboration of a loving and supportive husband who shared alongside me all the delights and opportunities of raising a zany family.
However, my deepest growth in understanding the love of a mother has been found in visiting and caring for my centenarian mother. Looking into her eyes, seeing her smile, answering her simple questions, helping her walk, doing her nails, saying prayers with her – all this has afforded me the privilege of experiencing a deep and profound love from her, reflecting how she spent her life as a mother by giving herself constantly to others.
A Mother’s Love
How can I express the craziness of a mother’s Love? In my opinion it really knows no limit and it never tires as she tries to show her child the way. Perhaps this short story helps to explain a mother’s heart:
In a remote mountain district in Japan there is a village called “The Place to Leave Your Mother.” In the ancient feudal days those who had reached seventy were brought there to die. While a man was escorting his elderly mother up the mountain to leave her there, the villagers relate, he notice d she was constantly breaking twigs as she went along.
“Mother,” he asked, “why are you breaking all those twigs?”
“Because, my son,” she replied, “I don’t want you to lose your way in returning home.”
This is truly the way we mothers think. I am the mother of five children and the grandmother of 11. And, as I take a step back and reflect on the years, there is no denying it that there have been challenges and even tears. But also I know that a mother’s love does bring about changes for the good…too many to count!
The story continues:
Deeply touched, the son burst into tears. Taking his mother in his arms, he carried her home. His action brought an end to the custom. (Eternal Answers for an Anxious Age, by John A. O’Brien, pp 162-163)