I heard a quote this morning as I took some time to myself to watch a movie. The story was about a mother who is conflicted between her own needs and dreams, and the need to follow through with the choices she had made and do what she knew was right.
She said, “When a woman makes the choice to marry and have children, in one way her love begins but in another way, it stops. You build a life of details and you just stop, and stay steady so that your children can move and when they leave they take your life of details with them. Your expected to move on again, but you don’t even remember what moved you because nobody has asked in so long. Not even yourself.”
Every single woman has a story. The grandmother you knew with gray hair and a worn-out body was once a woman with plans and dreams. She became a mother at some point, and if she was a good one motherhood became her world. Loving and serving those around her replaced the things that she had envisioned once upon a time.
It is the constant laying down of self that looks the most like love. Every mother that stands out in that role has succeeded this way.
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
― Joseph Campbell
It’s so easy to get lost in the shuffle of details. I lose myself all the time. I get so busy making everything happen for everyone that I forget Alison. I leave her in the dust somewhere wondering how to find her way back. And then I do exactly the opposite of my intention to do everything right by making the family around me miserable instead of creating the happiness I’m working so hard to create.
But, I must say, I have never felt like I’ve lost any dreams along my path. What God has given me became a dream that I never knew I had. As my children grow and are at the very edge of the nest, it sure does make a girl think about who she is and will be after all the commotion.
At this point, I find myself daring to dream some new dreams. It’s a fascinating view.
Now, I’m going to be honest here. I think there is a generation of mothers and wives that have begun to think of the commitment to being a wife and/or mother as a hobby. They’ve left themselves an opt-out clause in the back of their minds. These women are bent on the pursuit of their own happiness above all else and have no qualms making sure that their own needs are met.
It’s a far cry from the kind of woman I want to be. I made a commitment to be a wife and there is no opt-out. I chose to become a mother and until these children of mine are firmly established on their own two feet, I am here for them. Above all else, God has given me the responsibility to love Him, my husband and my children–in that order.
It’s the balance that’s the rub.
The other day, I was hiking in some of God’s most beautiful wilderness with my family. As I walked, I thought of the hundreds of walks our family has taken together all over this country. I thought of mountain trails with snakes, and beaches with dolphins. I remember taking home with me a beautiful acorn or seashell or stone and hoping that that token would be a reminder of that moment.
I then remembered a sign I had seen in some national park that said, “Take nothing but memories. Leave nothing but footprints.” There is no item that can magically transport me back to a time I’d like to revisit. Although I’ve told God several times that I hope in heaven we get to revisit a favorite moment or two. What I wouldn’t give to snuggle one of my toddlers again and smell their little necks and get a big, ol’ sticky kiss. But, for now, I take with me the memories, tucked safely in my heart, and pull them out every now and again and roll them around in my mind like so many seashells from so many precious moments.
As I walked behind my husband on our hike, I tried following in his footsteps for a few minutes. I could do it for a short while only since my stride isn’t quite the length of his. As I walked, I hoped he’d walk in a way that I could keep up. That he would consider me behind him, and make sure I was taken care of.
Don’t we owe that to these children we’ve committed to blazing a trail for? To find the balance in such a way that they are not our burden, but our gift. And that we are committed to walking in a way that honors them and makes a way for them to be all they are called to be.
To consider them as we create the path
Today, I want to thank my friend, the single mother who has shown me what sacrificial love looks like as she blazes a trail hand in hand with her God and leaves clear footprints for her son. She has chosen to find the balance between her dreams and the commitment she has to being the kind of mother her son will always be thanking his God for.
I honor my friend, the mother with several little ones. Juggling her work, the constant needs of a household and her babies, the needs of her husband, taking care of an elderly grandparent, and fending off the ever-present option of getting lost in the details. She does it with selflessness and love and it shows.
The proof is in the pudding on this one. When you look at the children, you see the love of the parents. When you get one of their hugs, you can tell the love they get from their mothers.
My prayer is to love. It’s that simple. To love and not get lost. To love even a fraction of the way my God loves me.
Hats off to you, moms. And Happy Mothers’ Day.