I wrote this piece several years ago, but it seems the perfect time to post it here. My mother has truly been one of the greatest blessings of my life. So many mothers have been the same to their children, and though I feel I have a special corner on the great mom market, I know there are many other strong, courageous, selfless women out there who have given so much that may have gone unnoticed. Today I encourage you to take a deeper look at the woman you call mom.
On Christmas Eve in our family we normally allow one another to open a gift of little importance. This is the time to give away socks, slippers, or other sundry necessities. The special gifts we save for the actual day.
However, in 2003 I received something I treasure much more than socks and slippers. I received a piece of my mother’s history and, consequently, a piece of her heart, in the form of a mother-daughter journal I had given her two years earlier. Few things accurately portray our inner selves as do our written thoughts, and that Christmas Eve, when I once upon a time would lie listening for Santa, I sat up late... reading my mother’s thoughts.
I learned about her faith and her fears, what makes her happy or sad, what her hopes have been for herself and for me. Because my mother and I have always been extraordinarily close, I already knew so much about her, but I marveled as I read. I marveled at the depth of the human soul, at the many facets of what makes us who we are. As I read, it struck me how truly knowing someone takes a lifetime.
We become who we are as we experience life. I wasn’t introduced to my mother until her twenty-sixth year. I missed those early years that played such a role in forming her character and personality. I’d heard the stories and seen the pictures, but I couldn’t truly get inside her early life until I read her thoughts.
I began to understand her fears and hopes, her interests and surroundings. I began to understand the formation of her identity. For a little while, in my mind, I walked in my mother’s shoes, experiencing her joys, crying her tears.
Her simple answers to common questions reached deep and revealed a woman whose life and character had formed through difficult experiences and joyous blessings. I realized then how deeply affected a child is by their parents and their parents’ history.
I find it amazing how God uses humans to form other humans. We aren’t made of magic formulas, we don’t simply happen... we become. In my becoming, I credit many people and situations; however, my mother has always played an irreplaceable role. As a child, I woke up to her tea kettle whistle in the morning and fell asleep to her story recitations at night. I spent my days at home with her, listening to her talk on the phone, watching as she cooked dinner, dusting by her side. I grew up in her comfortable shadow.
On that Christmas Eve, I understood even more about who my mother is. The woman that I know is the child who grew not only through times of joy and laughter, but also through times of tragedy and dismay. She is the teenager who giggled with her friends and shed tears of heartache. She is the young woman who struggled to hold together marriage and family while providing joy and security to three small children.
She is everything that life has made her.
And I am everything that life has made me through her.