How can something that makes you feel sad, tearful, weak, hurt….be laced with a fondness, a remembrance, a glimmer of hope.
not all things are always lost.
When you are a parent, you realize you have A LOT of choices to make. When to discipline, when to hug, when to break rules, when to scold, when to laugh out loud, when to hug, when not to let go, when to let go, when to admit you're wrong, when to cry, when to scream (yes, it is absolutely necessary sometimes to scream), when to go all in, when to fold (no, I'm not really a card player), when to chase, when to wait, when to let them fail.
We make choices as parents that teach our kids about how to love, and how to live. How to forgive, how to be thankful, how to have boundaries. It's not always easy. And the best way to show them, is to live out what we speak.
This Mothers Day…I feel a little challenged. I feel like, in the spirit of honoring motherhood, its time recall my thankfulness for my Mom. To make a choice to remember the good, and forgive the bad.
The ugly, hurt part of me….sometimes discredits my Moms wonderful attributes because of very serious pain that she has caused. Life isn't always fair. Sometimes it's messy. I have a choice to not leave people in their mistakes. Even if they were big ones. Sometimes we don't know how to navigate situations, let's just admit that it's ok to admit that.
When I was 12, exactly around the time you start really shaving your legs, and wanting to do your hair every morning before school, my Mom and Step Dad moved into a tent on 160 acres in the middle of nowhere. When I say "the middle of nowhere" I mean a plot of land smack dab in the center of 30,000 acres, with no other houses on it. Land that you get to by driving on a two mile, 4 wheel drive road, with a creek crossing over it at 3 different points. When people talk about roads with potholes, I fondly remember a road MADE of potholes.
In the beginning, this place was my worst nightmare. My Mom wanted to build her dream house. It had a view. I wanted to throw up. I moved in with my older sister while my family camped out, and worked on putting the frame (and a tiny bit more) of the house up.
Six Months later, our home had wooden 2x4 walls, no drywall, plywood floors, no doors for bedrooms or bathroom, and a plank of wood (acting as stairs) to the sliding-glass front door. Electricity was available because of our small generator, and you had to turn the light off in the kitchen so that you would have enough power to flush the toilet.
My life up to this point had consisted mainly of subdivisions, air conditioning, more than one bathroom, a paved driveway, schools 5 minutes away, light switches, running water at all times, basically, extremely "normal" living conditions. I don't even remember ever going camping. This was uncharted territory.
The bugs got in the house. The dust was thick. Summer days were hotter than hot. So hot, that I would wet a beach towel and lay it over my body at bedtime. I would fall asleep praying that a breeze would slip through the window. I'm not exaggerating. The animals had to eat early. The animals had to eat twice a day. The hay got in your face when you threw it over the fence. I smelled and tasted alfalfa all the time. The skunks sprayed the dogs. The water smelled of sulfur, and tasted salty. The coyotes were loud. A laundry basket of wet clothes is heavy. It was so hot. Carrying 5 gallon gas cans, bales of hay, propane tanks, and 50 lb. bags of dog food, was on the daily agenda. We could only shower a couple times a week. Thank God for the small above-ground pool. That, and a bucket worked fine in a pinch. In the beginning, I felt like a fragile shaking tree, caught in a hurricane. I would cry over how weird my life was.
When I would outwardly complain,
My Mom would proclaim, "This builds character!"
If words could have a weight in gold, those ones surely would.
Wisdom can't be bought though.
I don't remember the exact day I decided to stop resenting my life. But I do remember warm sun coming through the open windows, while Patsy Cline sang me through my indoor chores. I remember stars so bright, you could walk all night by the light of them. I remember horse races in an open meadow, watching the bats fly out at twilight, hiking for endless hours with your best friends (aka little sister and brother) and getting lost exploring and laughing. I remember hearing Moms whistle, and knowing it was time to turn towards home. I remember grabbing turtles in creek beds. I remember elk herds, deer stampeding, and bald eagles soaring above the wide open meadow that happened to be directly out our back door.
I remember swimming holes, and waterfalls, and the smell of fresh rain on top of a powdery dirt road. I remember catching tadpoles, stepping on bull frogs, and fresh chicken eggs. It was still hot, there were still chores. But the air was so fresh, and the sunsets looked like rich oil painted on a massive canvas. In the springtime, the grass was such a bright green, and it felt like a soft damp blanket under your feet.
We had callouses, and scars, and we smelled like dirt at the end of the day. We had creeks, and baby cows, and wild animals (some were pets, some came with the land). We had rattlesnakes, and cars that could barely make it home . We skipped rocks, and ran barefoot, and laid in the lazy sunshine for hours on end. In the winter, we would catch a rare dusting of snow, and slide in sneakers on the frozen pond. We missed school when the creeks were too high to drive through. We learned to tell time by the sun, and we learned that God was good by the beauty around us. That HIS character was steadfast and true, mighty, mysterious, and always in control.
We had sweat, and tears, and sorrow. We had joy, and triumph and laughter. We were doers. We achieved. We got by. We had country music and back roads. We had sun tea, and barbecues, and horse troughs. We had chickens, and sheep, and goats, and horses, and dogs, and cats, and mountain lions, and coyotes, and foxes, and buzzards. We had life humming and buzzing all around us at every moment. But there was also a stillness, a quietness, that some never get the pleasure of knowing.
We had floods, and lost power, and watched our animals pass away. We had circumstances that only God could fix. And we knew He would. And He did. We had character. And today, I am very thankful, for that.
Thank you, Mom.