Tis the season to celebrate mothers!
Join me as I share intimately how I feel about mine.
My Message to Mom
By Lynda Schab
Once upon a time I was a twelve-year-old girl going through a divorce. No, not my own; my parents were the ones filing. Psychologists said that age twelve was by far the most difficult age for a girl to experience the divorce of her parents and I did go through some traumatic emotional changes because of it. But I am convinced the reason I emerged into adulthood with minimal scarring is due to none other than the grace of God flowing through my mother.
Like most single moms, mine worked hard to provide everything she possibly could for my two younger brothers and me. She went back to school to move up from Licensed Practical Nurse to Registered Nurse so she could increase her income. She was gone to college for one whole year and we lived with my dad, which worked out fine but a young girl needs her mother! I realized more than ever that year just how much.
But Mom finally came home and we settled into a life of routine. She mostly worked the night shift to earn even more. We didn't have the most expensive things but we never went without. She always made sure we had more than enough clothes hanging in our closets, and plenty of food in the refrigerator. All of our physical and material needs were met.
My mom has confided in me several times that she regrets some things she did as a single mom. She has struggled with guilt regarding choices she made that she feels were selfish. She feels that, in many areas, she failed us as a mother.
I think these feelings may be natural for single mothers. The demands and pressures put upon them are undoubtedly unlike any other. In response to the honest feelings of inadequacy she expressed, I would like to share the following letter I wrote to my mom:
I can't imagine what it was like to be you, working more than forty hours per week, keeping a home running smoothly, and raising three kids by yourself. The stress you felt must have been overwhelming at times and I'm sure there were so many moments you were tempted to give up. But you kept on going, regardless of the way you felt.
When a couple of other moms in the area started spreading wild rumors about your lifestyle, and even discouraged their daughters from associating with me, you didn't let on how much it tore you apart. You only tried harder to make sure I knew how much I was loved. That it didn't matter what other people thought; only what God thought.
I know that I, personally, caused you several sleepless nights during my days of teenage rebellion. I was often the cause of anxiety you felt and was the reason behind many of your tears. But instead of yelling at me to straighten up or judging me for my stupid choices, you simply loved me. And now I want you to know that for everything you think you did wrong while raising me, there were a hundred things you did right. And those are the things I remember.
Like the time you'd finally gone to bed after working all night and I woke you up because I was emotionally distraught about something and needed to talk. You didn't say, "Can we talk about it later after I get some rest?" Instead, you sat up and listened and held me while I cried. You told me that day that if there ever came a time again when I needed to talk, not to hesitate waking you because I would always be so much more important than sleep.
How can I forget the time you picked me up in the middle of the night because I had so much to drink I wasn't even breathing properly. You didn't berate me, but instead checked on me every half hour through the night to make sure I was all right. And the time you got a phone call from the police to come and get me, your delinquent daughter, because I had gotten myself into trouble and needed a ride home. Again, no yelling, no judgment, simply acceptance. Simply love.
If anything more was needed from you, it was probably discipline. I'll be the first to admit I needed a big, old kick in the pants! I'm certain you are relieved that this phase didn't last long, but I know that had a lot to do with your prayers and the way you responded to my needs at that time. Because what it came down to was that period of rebellion was my cry for help. I was struggling to discover who I was in this world. You recognized this struggle and met my emotional needs by demonstrating the love of Jesus in a way I will never forget.
Today you're my best friend. You're the first person I think of to call when I have good news or bad. You're the only person in the world who shares my unique and wacky sense of humor. If I had a choice to spend one day with anyone in the world, I wouldn't even have to think twice. I can't imagine what my life would have been like growing up without you and I can't imagine my life without you now. You're my confidant. My sounding board. My hero.
So when I hear you say how guilty you feel about the things you did wrong as a mother, and how selfish you think you were back then, it breaks my heart. Because to me, you are the most selfless person I know. You selflessly deposited in me everything that's important in this life: a love for others, a giving spirit, and the desire to serve an awesome, living God. Even more, you left me with a part of yourself because everything you taught me remains. And besides Jesus, I can't think of anyone I'd rather be like than you.
Love always and forever,
Lynda Schab is a freelance writer, currently working on a contemporary Christian mystery from her home in Michigan, where she lives with her husband and two children. She is still striving to become all God called her to be, as a wife, a mother, and a Christian. You can write to Lynda through the Letters page of this magazine.
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