Motherhood memories

Mother's Day collageRemember back in grade school when the teacher would give an assignment to create an acrostic?

You wracked your brain trying to compose a poem or some type of composition where you used the first letters of a name or word to form a line of other words describing the vertical word or name.

Like the one I composed above. Thoughts of MOTHERMemories Of The Happy times Easily Remembered.

Mother’s Day is slated on the calendar for this coming Sunday. And as usual, this holiday honoring our moms always brings forth a tidal wave of memories for me.

This month marks a very special page in my book, not just because of Mother’s Day but because three special women in my life were born during the merry month of May.

One was my own mother. Another was Papa’s (my husband’s) mother. And the third was my first child, who being born just 45 minutes before it actually became Mother’s Day, bestowed the title of mother upon me.

So once May rolls around on the yearly calendar, sweet memories always leisurely float their way to the surface of the ocean of my mind.

Memories like my mother fixing a tiny tea party for a childhood friend and myself when I was around four years of age and the scent of fresh, clean soap when my mother held me close.

Memories of my mother-in-law, who was more of a mother-in-love and herself the mom of three sons, confiding to me that she considered me her daughter and the surprising day she gifted a ring, given to her by my father-in-law and one she wore each day, to me.

Memories of holding my first sweet-smelling baby in the labor and delivery recovery room after giving birth and listening as my brand new daughter immediately stopped crying when the nurse placed her on my chest next to my wildly beating and excited heart.

Memories. Happy, joyous times but also bittersweet moments as well.

Memories like the one of my beloved mother lying in her hospital room succumbing to that dreaded disease – cancer – and me being the last one to leave her side one evening. As I leaned over and kissed the cheek of the one who had held and kissed me in comfort and love so many times before, she lovingly took my hand in hers and whispered in my ear, “Pray for me.”

Memories of one last long-distance phone call to my dear mother-in-law as she soon would breathe her last breath. And the question, which was most pressing on her wandering mind, for me:  “When are you coming home?”

Memories of bringing my little one into this world without my husband by my side while he was serving his country in a land on the other side of the globe.  And memories of that sweet, tiny baby growing up into the loveliest of daughters, setting off on life’s adventures far away from her home and her mama. 

Memories that make me smile. Memories that make me laugh. And yes, memories that make tears well up in my eyes and cause a catch in my throat. They all are memories of motherhood.

May memories.

“The best things you can give children, next to good habits, are good memories.” ~ Sydney J. Harris

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Mother’s Day love

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Mother’s Day flowers

When it comes to Mother’s Day remembrances, certain recollections float to the surface of the deep pool of my memory.   

My mother’s birthday was also in May so that merry month brought more than one day of celebrating Mom.   I always associated May with flowers because often times we would purchase flats of flowers for Mom’s Mother’s Day gift which she would plant in her flower gardens.  

Mom loved to garden and she loved her flowers.  There were always perennials in bloom in several areas around our yard and she delighted in the annuals she placed in one flower garden, the one with the pretty bird bath in the center.

When I was young, Mother’s Day began with attending church which would be packed with families all lined up in the pews with their proud mamas.  We ladies, young and old, wore flower corsages on Mother’s Day to show honor to our mothers. 

In our community, you wore a white corsage if your mother was no longer living and a pink or red one if you were still blessed to have your mother with you.  I remember the day my mom wore a white carnation corsage to church because her mother had passed away the previous year.  And even though I was small, I proudly wore my pink carnation.

My first Mother’s Day was truly remarkable.  Forty-five minutes before midnight the night before Mother’s Day arrived, my first-born daughter arrived in this world.  Her daddy, a military man, was stationed all the way across the world when she arrived, but even that couldn’t thwart my joy about becoming a mother for the first time just in time for that special occasion.

I became a mother twice again and each time that joy increased.  Mother’s Day became even sweeter than before.  Out of all my accomplishments in life, becoming a mother has been the most fulfilling which came as a complete surprise to me because as a young college girl I had proudly proclaimed I wasn’t going to have children.  Oh, the follies of youth.

My own mother passed away from cancer over 17 years ago.  Just four months prior to that, my mother-in-law, who I loved, admired, and honored for raising the fine man my husband became, also passed away. 

Mother’s Day that year was so very difficult.  I didn’t want to celebrate this special occasion.  I opted out of the annual Mother-Daughter dinner held at our church.  I just couldn’t even begin to think about the day with any joy. 

My wise and caring father asked me why I wasn’t attending the mother-daughter event and I told him I couldn’t.  I didn’t want to watch all of the happy ladies sitting and enjoying their time with their mothers when I had lost my own.

His reply surprised me and I’ve never forgotten his words.  He told me he knew the anguish I felt losing my mom.  He had felt that way too when his own mother passed away.  He said he understood the grief is so difficult and that losing your mother felt like losing a part of yourself.

But his next remark was the one that will stay in my thoughts as long as I have memory.  He said, “But, you must celebrate Mother’s Day because you are a mother.  You have three children who love you and you celebrate this day for them.”

He was so very right.  As my dad often was.

So even though there is a tinge of sadness in me when Mother’s Day rolls around on the calendar, I celebrate that day because I am a mother.  I am blessed with three incredible adult children.  I am loved and respected and honored by those three.

This year Mother’s Day brought another first.  It was the first time I shared the day with one of my daughters who celebrated her very first Mother’s Day as a mother to our precious granddaughter.

Papa cut a sprig of fragrant lilac from the bush in our yard and he and I helped our sweet grandbaby awaken her mommy with a card and little gift for her very first Mother’s Day celebration.

My first Mother’s Day as a grandmother will be added to that memory pool with joy and contentment.  And the knowledge of being privileged to spend it with my daughter and adorable grandbaby. 

Even though my other children couldn’t be here to share this special day, I know they were thinking of me.  Their love arrived in phone calls, cards, and beautiful flowers. 

And love surely was expressed in my granddaughter’s smiles and coos.

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” ~Unknown

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

The third incredible woman of May

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Incredibly brave while holding a friend’s snake!

“When you become a mother, you stop being the picture and start being the frame.”  ~ Unknown

Today is Mother’s Day and also the birthday of the third woman, born in May, who impacted my life in a significant way.

This young woman is beautiful, articulate and adventuresome in spirit.    Tiny in stature, demure-looking to the world, but if you invoke her anger, watch out because she possesses a fiery, feisty and very passionate side.

Intelligent, but not in a nerdy way, she has compassion for those less fortunate than herself, which is why she volunteers regularly at a soup kitchen mission, encourages a young underprivileged girl as her “big sister” in the Big Brother/Big Sister program and has served others on mission trips.

And oh, does she love to travel to exciting places!   She’s ventured to a majority of the United States and experienced trips abroad to France, England, South Africa, Mozambique, and Honduras.  If she acquired enough financing, she would travel all over the world because visiting every continent is inscribed on her bucket list.

Her highly organized style makes her a keeper of lists – lists of things to do, lists of adventures to take, lists of things she’s accomplished, lists of ordinary occurrences.    Her talents include singing (although she does so quietly) and playing piano beautifully with gusto and emotion.

She understands complex molecular biology yet has a knack for writing with humor and insight, and she loves country line dancing.   She owns an outrageous sense of humor and provides family and friends with lots of laughs.  (Ask her if gullible is written on the ceiling – sorry, that’s an inside joke.)

She loves God first and her family second, and probably her cat ranks third on that list followed by her friends.  And sunflowers are her favorite flowers.  I know this young woman so well because she is my daughter, my first-born child.

My daughter and I bonded long before she actually entered this world.  While her military daddy was stationed across the globe, she, as a tiny baby developing in my womb, helped me stay focused during the time hubby and I were apart.

My life centered completely on hers during that time.  To ensure her health, I concentrated on mine and consumed nothing that wasn’t healthy even abandoning my beloved tea for decaffeinated.

I talked to her each day as she squirmed and performed somersaults inside of me.  I wrote daily letters to her daddy describing preparations for the new life that would be joining ours.

When her tiny foot or knee or fist protruded and formed a knot on the outside of my abdomen, I caressed that spot with my fingers to assure her Mama loved her.  I knew music would play an important role in her life because she “danced” each time I played piano and stopped immediately when the music halted.

One Saturday night, after many hours of labor, my oldest daughter emerged as a tiny, delicate mixed version of myself and my hubby and presented herself to me as my Mother’s Day gift.  Born less than an hour before Mother’s Day arrived, my little one gave me the gift of motherhood in time for the holiday.

Every single concern or doubt I fretted over about becoming a mother totally evaporated when that amazing little baby girl was placed in my arms.  In that moment and in the years to come, I finally understood the meaning of unconditional love.

No matter what she or her younger sister and brother may have done, I neither would nor could ever stop loving my children.   Becoming a mother gave me insight into how God loves us without condition.

“The mother love is like God’s love; he loves us not because we are lovable, but because it is His nature to love, and because we are His children.”  ~ Earl Riney

As I reminisce on this Mother’s Day about all the years I’ve spent as a mother, I realize I never could have accomplished this task without God’s guidance, without prayer, without the understanding of a mother’s ferociously intense love for her child.  And I’m hopeful that I’ve done my very best with the lessons I have learned in motherhood.  I agree with Ruth Bell Graham when she said:  “As a mother, my job is to take care of what is possible and trust God with the impossible.”

So as I celebrate my oldest daughter’s birthday in my book of Opportunity, Chapter 5, Page 8,  I give praise and thankfulness to the One who gave me the gift of life first, then blessed me with the gift of motherhood, not just once but three times.

Happy Birthday, my dearest Oldest Daughter!  Thank you for teaching me to be the frame for your beautiful picture!   May your day be blessed with the knowledge that you are loved beyond comprehension by God and by your mother.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

The second incredible woman of May

My mother-in-law with her little boy (my husband)

Her birthday passed by just the other day and I thought of her, even though she’s been gone for such a long time.  She is the second incredible female born in May who influenced my life in a wonderful way.

Often when I remember her I wonder, “Did I tell her enough how much I appreciated her?  Did she realize how much she meant to me?”

She welcomed me into her life with open arms.   I can’t remember one time when we had words of disagreement.  She only offered me approval and affection and she always seemed genuinely glad to see me, hug me tightly and kiss my cheek.

She was my mother-in-law.   When I hear others criticize or complain about their mothers-in-law, I cringe.  I honestly never had those kind of opinions about the mother of my husband.  She never gave me reason to.

She didn’t interfere with our lives or decisions.  She didn’t offer advice unless we asked for it.  She was a thoughtful, quiet and unassuming lady who treated me with great kindness.  And I think she loved me like a daughter.

When we visited my husband’s parents, my elderly mother-in-law became so excited.  She stocked her pantry with food she knew we liked;, she loved to cook breakfast for us each day.  She treated us to our favorite things, and enjoyed visiting other relatives with us.   She would cry when we arrived for a visit, and she would weep again when we departed.

She greeted the arrival of her grandchildren with great love and pride, taking picture after picture of them (sometimes inadvertently cutting their parents’ heads out of the frame with her camera aim).  But she never cut me out of her life.   We chatted long-distance by phone often and she eagerly wanted to hear the latest escapades of our lives.

She never forgot a birthday or our anniversary and she was extremely generous.  One of the loveliest gifts she ever bestowed on me was a ring.  Her ring.  It doesn’t hold much monetary value, but soars in sentimental worth.

Set in a simple gold band is an opal, a gem I’ve always loved.  Purchased by my father-in-law for my husband’s mother shortly after their marriage, the ring adorned her finger for over 55 years.

Once I remarked how lovely it was and apparently, she never forgot that.  During one visit, she surprised me by confiding in me that she wanted me to have her ring.   And shortly after my father-in-law passed away, my dear mother by marriage, presented the ring to me.  I have treasured it ever since.

But more than that worn ring, I treasured her.   How could I not love the hands that lovingly held and nurtured  my beloved one?  How could I not respect and honor the mother who guided that little boy to become the outstanding man he became, took him to Sunday School and church to learn more about the God he serves?

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote:  “Men are what their mothers made them.”  To not love my mother-in-law seemed equal to not loving my husband.   She treated me as a much-loved member of her family, the daughter she never had as the mother of all sons.  And I loved her back.

The last time I spoke with her before she passed away, we talked briefly on the phone.  Even though she was very ill, her concern was for us.  “How are the kiddies?”  she asked.  And I related the latest news of her grandchildren.  The last thing she asked me that day was “When are you coming home?”

“We’ll come see you soon,” I assured her.  But it was too late.  The next day she went home to be with the Lord.

When I catch a faint scent of Chantilly perfume wafting by me, I always think of my mother-in-law as it was her favorite cologne.   On this 7th page in Chapter 5 of my Opportunity book, I contemplate the fact that next year I will become a mother-in-law for the first time.

I hope to follow in my own sweet mother-in-law’s footsteps since she lovingly demonstrated with her words and deeds what a  blessing a mother-in-law can and should be.   Those are the lessons she taught me.

Happy Mother’s Day, mother of my beloved; I miss you still.

“We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”~ Goethe

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com