It’s funny how grief can catch you off-guard and throw you off-kilter, when you least expect it.
The other day, I was out walking…thinking…walking….thinking……
Mostly I was thinking about my crew—these four kids of mine. All four are young adults now. They amaze me. I can’t believe that I get to be their mom.
And, in the midst of those thoughts, it hit me.
I am now almost 3 years older than what my mom was, when cancer ravaged her body and took her life.
Wow. Such a strange thing to ponder.
I’ll be honest with you—the idea caught my breath, for a moment. While my theology does not permit me to say that she has missed so much–for I firmly believe she is truly home, where there is no pain, no sickness, no weariness, no sorrow—–I can say that I self-centeredly, have missed her deeply. When I look back over all the things that I have experienced in the 25 years since her death, there is an ache in my soul:
- I missed her when I took my first pregnancy test, and it had two lines, instead of one.
- I missed her in the middle of the “It’s-2:00am-my-little-guy-is-burning-up-with-a-fever-what-do-I-do” nights.
- I missed her when I wondered if I would survive the Pre-Teen years.
- I missed her when I was frightened and filled with doubts about who God is.
- I missed her when our lives fell apart.
- I’ve missed sharing with her, as new joys have entered my world and as God has shown me grace and mercy.
- And, I miss her now, as I try to help my four young adults find their footing out in this big, big world.
Oh mom, I miss you.
There’s a tendency, when we lose someone we love, to put that person on a pedestal. We all do it; I think it is a very normal thing to do. There may be even an element of health to it–we long to remember our loved ones with fond memories, not hard ones. So, we focus on how wonderful they were.
As we should.
But I think there is a real danger in that, as well, if we are not careful. We can tend to idolize them–to change reality in such a way that we miss just how very human–and like us–they were.
Let me stop here, though, and say this—before you think that you are about to read something negative about my mom, let me assure you that is not the case.
My mom truly was amazing.
I didn’t appreciate just how amazing, until just about 10 years ago, when I took an honest look at who she was. She was incredible. Hard-working. Kind-hearted. Stubborn (in a good way). Beautiful. Compassionate.
And, people, she was funny.
But you know what?
She was not perfect.
And, her imperfect-ness makes me miss her even more.
You see, now that I find myself in that very weird stage of life, where my two bigs have “launched” into adulthood, and my too smalls are standing on that cliff, preparing to make that leap, I find that I have a different perspective on parenting–and life, in general.
I can look back on the past 24 years of being a parent and see just how many times I have failed my crew. Just how many mistakes I have made. I have been angry, when compassion would have been the better option. I have been too harsh at times, and too lenient at others. I have failed to listen well, on occasion. I have forgotten things, such as lunch money, signed permission slips, soccer registration deadlines. I’ve not done a great job of teaching them how to eat healthy, or how to iron their clothes perfectly. I’ve laughed, when I should have cried—and I’ve cried, when I should have laugh.
And guess what, all my mom friends? (And dad friends, too!)
You have, too.
This thing called parenting—it’s like navigating shark-infested waters. You can thinking you are swimming along just fine, in calm, clear waters, when all of a sudden, a fin pops up next to you, and you are in panic mode. It’s unpredictable. It’s uncontrollable. It’s wonderful, amazing, exhilarating, terrifying, exhausting, joyful and heart-crushing.
And we will not–we can not–do it perfectly.
And, as amazing as my mom was, she did not parent perfectly.
And, oh, that makes me love and miss her just that much more. Why?? Because it gives me tremendous hope. It gives me hope to know that the mistakes I make are covered by tremendous grace, just as the mistakes she made were covered with tremendous grace. It gives me hope because, instead of trying to live up to a “perfect” example in my mom, I can strive to be “like” her, with all of my flaws—and that goal is attainable. Do I think I will ever reach it? No–because while I do not put her on a pedestal, I can’t imagine ever living up to her example. But it is not so far out of my reach, that it discourages me from trying.
And, in trying to be like her, I hope and pray I am creating the same sort of legacy for my kids—one that says, “I’m not perfect. I will make mistakes. I do make mistakes. I mess up, in this parenting thing…..
But I love you Keli, Tim, Mark and Bethy. And I am always, always, always, in your corner.
And, I will never stop praying for each of you, that you will know the only perfect parent–our God, who gives us the grace, and mercy, and forgiveness necessary to parent those He entrusts to us for a breath of time, in this life.
Thank you, Mom, for teaching me this.
And, for being imperfectly perfect.
I love you.
Happy Mother’s Day.