As I’ve grown older and moved through so many transitions and phases of motherhood, I’m reflective and fascinated by the role of a mother in a child’s life. There are traditions, cultural responses, and generational patterns that cultivate and define motherhood that is unique to each family; yet, I do believe that some aspects transcend and unite us.
My beautiful mother turned 91 on October 11, 2021. We gathered as a family to celebrate her years on Earth this past Sunday at a local Italian restaurant. (I included the link. They were so efficient, kind, and the food was delicious!) Leading up to the event, the day of the event, and the lingering thoughts after have been on my mind. My father passed away last year, so this birthday celebration was without him by her side. We were going to celebrate her 90th last year, but could not get it together because of COVID-19 and my dad’s health and ultimate passing. It was like anything you are trying to plan during a pandemic–awkward, strange, and not what you really had hoped for. So the pause button was pushed.
Here we are a year later and life is different.
My mom is a servant and helper. If she were to take the Enneagram inventory she would be a #2, Helper. When I was planning her birthday last year, she was insistent that we also celebrate my dad who also has a birthday in October. I was curious about this ask and tried to explain to her that we would celebrate him, too, and we wanted to recognize her 90 years–a new decade. My mom put my dad, her husband of over 60 years, first. Her love language to others is to serve, help, support, and believe in the person they will become. She doesn’t even recognize the possibility of failed outcomes. She prays for and believes in better outcomes for all her loved ones and friends. With every strength, we recognize the flipped side or potential weakness. I love how the Enneagram shares the maladaptive side to our number so we can live life balanced. I just don’t think this post will talk about those things. Who among us has not wrestled with the other side of the behavior or action?
When I was 16 years old, my mother gave me a song and said, “I love you…” The song was Wind Beneath My Wings. I’m embarrassed to write this but willing to share. I seriously thought she was sharing the song with me in response to a serious relationship I was in at the time with a young man. I’m laughing aloud with you! Or, as my friend would say, “I just snorted!” I can still vividly see us standing in the music room, me listening, me sharing this, and her confused look, but her ultimate expression of parental knowing. I was the last child in the bunch of 5 so she had lots of experience in these matters.
I sang this song often in my musical career and when the song was highlighted in the movie Beaches with Bette Midler, my mom and I not only shared the movie but also the song. There were times in our relationship in which that song was an irritant and times when loved swelled up in our hearts and consumed our minds with deep understanding. Of course, the irritant was always one sided. As I grew into adulthood and became a wife, a mother, and a grandmother I can see more clearly.
I had to sing the song on her birthday. Our song of all the years trying to navigate life as women. I see you mom. I see your servant heart and the anchor of hope you speak over all of us. Family came together. All of us in the room are still seeking understanding of our future and our hope. We all showed up in our season of life with all the stories, struggles, losses, and battles.
I woke up on the party day after a dream in which I was talking to my dad. Again, so vivid and heartfelt. I was weeping uncontrollably and fussing at my dad saying, “You make sure you don’t suggest any calling of my mom home to be with you! We need her at least 10 more years. Maybe 15 years.” I woke up laughing at the thought of me having control over that, and, yes, me fussing at my dad still. We are so much alike.
Women, moms, aunts, sisters, daughters, women friendships that are like sisters– we are this expression of hope. We are the wind beneath the wings of those hurting. We show up, text, call, visit, and encourage beyond our capacity to ensure that this world is better off one person and one moment at a time. We do this to our own demise sometimes and that’s when other women speak into our lives and remind us of boundaries, self-compassion, and hope.
I pray that every relationship you find yourself praying for that you see the possibilities and the person they ARE becoming. I pray you do the same for yourself.
My mom gave me my faith (so I changed up the words a bit). He is my wind. My father.
“But they that wait for Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31