I’ve avoided Mothers’ Day celebrations since my mom died in 2011. I hid out at home, mostly, just spending the day in prayer and in quiet, away from social media. I privately greet my family and friends who are mothers. Mostly I celebrated my mother’s memory in solitude, while others were celebrating, taking photos and posting them online. Not that I resent these things, I am truly happy for people who have something to celebrate on Mothers’ Day. However, I remembered women like me who were both orphaned and childless, who had babies who died, who nursed these private pains while the world celebrated their mothers who were still physically with them.
To say that my mom had a tough childhood is quite the understatement. She had a horrific childhood. She married young (to a sweet, wonderful man) in part to escape that awful part of her life. She was eager to have children of her own that she can love and cherish and not break. She had no good role model when it came to parenting, but the older I get, the more I am amazed at how deliberate and thoughtful she was in the way that she raised us. Especially me, her only daughter. While she didn’t have good role models when it came to parenting, she opened herself completely to God, and let His Word shape her into the kind of mother she hoped to be.
As her only daughter, and one who had such a different personality from her, our relationship wasn’t always easy. In fact we butted horns quite frequently, and it strained our relationship for many years. She raised me to be my own person, though. Now that I have begun to get to know God through His Word, as she did when she was still alive, I realize that I recognize the principles behind many of her decisions and the words that she used to teach us, shape us. Instead of allowing the pain of her childhood to define her, she begun to understand her identity in Christ, and that defined her instead. That was the kind of parent she became–God-fearing, God-loving.
She is one of the very few people I know who was truly status-blind. She didn’t treat people differently just because they were richer or poorer. Even after we got out of the bad neighborhood where we grew up, even when God has prospered our family, my mom was never mata-pobre. She had a wider sense of the world, a better grasp of its temporary nature. Especially towards the end of her life, she had a quietness inside her that I struggled to comprehend.
She also taught me at an early age to think differently. She said I always asked questions about things that puzzled her. Questions about stereotypes on women and men (why women were expected to dress and act a certain way, for example). She let me read books at an early age that opened my mind to questions about the struggles of women. She showed by example that women can do anything they set their minds on, and that I didn’t need a man to complete me. When I became a young woman, she reminded me that I did not need “romance” to feel complete, and helped me re-evaluate my idea of a healthy relationship. She taught me to date a man whose world doesn’t revolve around me, who wasn’t intimidated of my intellect and personality, who was kind towards me. Despite all the guidance, I still made a few mistakes, but in the end I did marry a man who is the best fit for me, and she was such a loving mother-in-law to him.
When I got married, she never pressured me to give her a grandchild. She reminded me to take care of my health, but she never even suggested that my husband and I are incomplete without children. She just wanted us to be happy, and she saw that we were happy, and she never tried to cast a shadow on that. She never catered to that idea of a “complete”, traditional family, and I never had to defend myself to her when it came to that. She never hurt me with those kinds of questions or comments.
Many times in my life, when I am trying to figure out what to do and how to decide on things, I wish my mom’s still here to guide me. I rack my brain to try and remember her lessons, her words, and true enough I find her words to always be reliable because she’s guided by the Word. Despite the challenges and struggles of her life, I know that this is the kind of woman I want to be. She might not be successful in the world’s definition of success, but she ran the race and finished strong. That’s how I want to finish.
I still miss her so much. Perhaps I’ll always miss her, even when the grieving is done. My mother was a remarkable Christian woman. I am very much blessed to be her daughter.