Welcome to my musings...

After a 3 year hiatus from blogging (too busy parenting teens to have time to write about it!), I have decided to revive my blog. I look forward to sharing my perspective on mothering as I am at the tail end of my child-raising journey. Nothing could be more beautiful, more full of joy and pain and anguish, than the divine calling of motherhood. I pray my musings will bless you on your own journey, and that you will feel encouraged and equipped!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Passing of the Torch

Yesterday was a day of mixed emotions for me. There was much joy as we celebrated Thanksgiving with my parents and some friends, giving thanks for all that God has done for us. We laughed and feasted, shared what we were thankful for, and watched the children play games and have fun together. Underlying the joy, however, was a bit of sadness as well. As I pulled out my grandmother’s china, an ache filled my heart. I remembered the many, many holidays celebrated at her house in Tulsa, eating off these same beautiful plates. I remembered her sweet, servant hands cooking and serving an amazing meal and making it look so easy. I remembered our special relationship and how very much she meant to me, and I missed her deeply.

It was also the first time I was in charge of the turkey. After almost twenty-one years of marriage, believe it or not, I had never really cooked the turkey. We were always either at one of our grandparents’ or parents’ houses, or visiting a sibling out of state. Even the very few years we were at our own house, my mom and dad usually handled the turkey. Yesterday morning, as I wrestled a stubborn and slippery 17-lb. turkey and thought, “I sure hope this turns out!”, I felt as if a torch had been passed. As I picked up the phone (several times!) to call my mother for advice, the thought occurred to me, “How will I do this without her advice when she is gone?” Again, my heart ached. As my mom and I discussed this, I learned that she, too, was feeling these things. She confessed that she felt the same way when my grandmother died. She had become accustomed to having her sweet mother-in-law on the other end of the phone, lovingly dispensing advice for these big occasions, and she missed her.

Then, as my oldest daughter joined me in the kitchen as I cooked up the Thanksgiving feast, she sadly said, “I only have two more Thanksgivings at home after this one.” My mind flashed ahead and I pictured being at home, alone, cooking the Thanksgiving meal and waiting for my children to arrive. I imagined being the one who was supposed to have all the answers, without my mother to turn to for advice. I imagined Molly cooking her own Thanksgiving feast and calling me on the phone to find out how to cook the turkey. All of a sudden, I could see the swift progression of time and the continual passing of the torch from one generation to the next.

In our Thanksgiving devotional, my husband shared about our goal of teaching our children to love and serve God, and then teaching them to teach their children. In this quiet way, we can profoundly impact our world. It is a passing of the baton of faith, from one generation to the next. We are deeply convicted that we must have a multi-generational vision of training up our families. We must be praying, not only for our children, but for our future grandchildren and great-grandchildren . In the same way that my mother learned to cook a Thanksgiving feast from her mother and mother-in-law, and then taught me to do the same, we must be passing on the tenets of our faith to our children, and instilling in them the desire to do the same with their own children.

As I looked around at the faces of my family at our Thanksgiving table, I breathed a silent prayer. I prayed for many more years of enjoying my mother’s teaching and to savor every moment of time that God has given me with her, learning from a woman who is the embodiment of a gentle and quiet spirit. I prayed for my children, that they would grow up to love and serve their Heavenly Father and raise their children to do the same. I prayed for my husband, and thanked God for his spiritual leadership. And, lastly, I thanked my Lord for so graciously giving me these precious souls to cherish and asked that He help me to be ready to face this coming passing of the torch.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

When Firsts Become Lasts

Being a mother entails being the keeper of many “firsts”. Ask any young mother when their baby got their first tooth, and you will likely get a rapid response. On the contrary, ask a father, and he will likely answer, “The baby has a tooth?” For some reason, God has made mothers the keepers of such memories. We notice every first our children accomplish, from their first steps to the time they read those first few words from a book. Many of us faithfully record these instances in baby books and scrapbooks, preserving the memories for the future (at least until we have more than two children…then our scrapbooking efforts often get a little sketchy!).

I’ve noticed, however, that the “lasts” tend to pass by unnoticed. One day, we realize that no one has asked us to tie a shoe for them. No one has asked us to read a bedtime story or dress a doll for them or place a Band-Aid on a wound. In what seems like the blink of an eye, we’ve gone from providing for every need to occasionally assisting. And, in the hustle and scurry of everyday life with children, those “lasts” have slipped by without us recognizing them. I have to confess, this makes my heart sad until I remember that this is God’s design: we are given a tiny little being to mold and shape and love and nurture into an independent, God-fearing adult. If we have done our job well, we will reap a harvest of blessings in watching our children serve and love the Lord as independent adults.

I am starting to feel like I am entering that season of lasts. My oldest daughter is a sophomore. She is driving, has a job and is starting to think about college. We are working on a high school transcript, figuring out when to take the PSAT and SAT, and beginning to talk about college and future plans. While I share her excitement as she figures out where God is leading her, my mother’s heart also aches at the coming changes. Today, I am helping her get ready for her first formal dance, a Civil War Ball that she is attending with her father. As I hem up her hoop skirt and help her choose a hairstyle and paint her nails, I wonder…is this the last time she will ask for my help in such matters? As I watch her learn to be more and more independent, my emotions are a jumble. I am thrilled with her maturity and her growing wisdom. I love that she is so capable…she can clean, cook, sew, take care of children and she loves God more than anything. Yet at the same time, I see that serious little brown-eyed girl who followed me around with endless questions and I miss her. We’ve already passed so many “lasts”…how many of them did I even notice?

So, if you are a young mother, overwhelmed by the daily tasks of bathing, diapering and feeding your young, please listen. While the days seem long now, I promise you the years will fly by at an unbelievable pace. After years of “firsts”, you will suddenly find yourself grieving the “lasts”. Take the time to enjoy them…enjoy the funny things they do that make you laugh. Treasure every time they crawl up into your lap with a book for you to read. Soak in every moment of quiet conversation at their bedside as they ask you the questions of their hearts. Listen to just one more question when you are weary to the bone. Give an extra hug or a kiss and store up those precious moments in your heart. For all those “firsts” will all too soon turn into “lasts”.

The days they crawl, the years they fly
As one by one, they pass me by.
Some days are years, but years are days
As they grow up beneath my gaze.

Just yesterday they were so small
How can it be they’re now so tall?
They used to cuddle on my knee,
And now it is their eyes I see.

Sometimes I worry, fret and pray,
I wonder what to do and say.
The days with them are precious few,
The years with them are precious, too.

Will they be ready on that day
When far from me, they fly away?
Will I have trained them, taught and shown
Enough to help them when they’re grown?

It matters not what they become
As long as they don’t wander from
The One who made them, and loves them best
Who gives them love, joy, peace and rest.

If they grow up to serve him well
As only time and God can tell
I’ll know that I have finished strong
The job that seemed so short, so long.

--Wendy Metzger