This week I have been talking about books. As I already mentioned I recently read Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan and Surprised By Motherhood by Lisa Jo Baker . The authors themselves and the main premise of each book is very different. However, they both take a deep and personal look at their mothers in hindsight after becoming a mother themselves. It is amazing what truths are unveiled to them that were there all along, but it’s different when you look back. It’s different when you are a mom.
In Baker’s memoir, Surprised By Motherhood, she looses her mother when she is 18 years old. Nearly two decades later she is looking at her young daughter and she begins to see herself through her late mother’s eyes. So much healing takes place in that moment. It really is a moving story that I highly recommend. That particular part of the story truly resonated with me. Because in that moment she feels like she has a glimpse of what her mom felt. It is then that she knows that she was loved and she knows that she was known. She couldn’t have experienced it in a way that was so intricate or detailed until she applied it to the relationship she has with her own daughter.
I didn’t loose my mother, but I did loose a brother. Zeb was diagnosed when he was 3 years old. He had Leukemia. He died when he was about to turn 7 and I was 9. We were very close. I grieved the loss of my little brother, the baby of our family, my best friend. I had closure though. I knew he was in Heaven, and the way that I missed him evolved over time.
Then I became a mother. Sigh. Motherhood changes everything doesn’t it? And much in the way of these two authors who saw their mothers in a different light after having kids, I did as well. I understood now the price that she paid, willingly and lovingly, to raise her four children. I also felt like I had a new understanding, although I could never know completely, about what she went through with my little brother Zeb. I hesitate to say that it opens up a wound, but the good news is that God is gracious and merciful and that His presence is a balm for these feelings. He can soothe even the deepest abrasions.
You see, I lost a brother and that was tough. I cherish the memories I have of him. However, I pray that I will never know what it is like to loose a son. As a young girl I had NO idea what my parents went through. Looking back at it with my new perspective as a mom I have to grieve all over again. Every once in a while I will hear stories about that time in our life. I treasure these stories. It’s a part of my life and I want to know everything there is to know about my brother Zeb. I take it all in. Even the hard stuff. It might be stories about his treatment, the chemo, and bone marrow transplant. Or pictures of how young my mother was when she had to endure all this at the age I am now. Or just the look in her eyes when she talks about it. The wholeness and peace that comes from above, along with the empty space that never goes away. And you never want it to.
It’s been 23 years and she does cry every once in a while. Now that I am a mom I totally get that. I am sure she’s crying right now reading this (I am too). It’s weird the way life imprints dates, ages, places on your heart so that you can’t go pass them without tripping a wire. I am sure all of us have those times that serve as a memorial. For me, I think of my mom when my children (especially my oldest son) turn 3 and then 7. Z is seven now actually, and there was one night in particular, after putting him to bed and watching him drift to sleep, I just had to weep over the thought of what that would be like to lose him. I certainly don’t want all this to come across as an obsessive state of hopelessness and depression. It’s quite the contrary. On the occasion that these memories do arise I am reminded of the Savior’s sacrifice. I am reminded of the promise and the hope that we have through Christ. It’s also like rereading the living testament that my parents walk out daily as they prove the redeeming and powerful love of God in the midst of the storms. Lastly, I am honoring a precious little boy’s legacy.
As I read Lisa Jo Baker’s words and saw the healing that was evident through the pain. I also saw that at work in my own life and I am sure it can be true for you as well. We all experience different forms of loss and grief, and the way we grieve is as diverse as each one of us.
To bring this back to becoming a mom and seeing our moms in a new light I would like to share this little quote from Glitter and Glue,
“And it occurs to me that maybe the reason my mother was so exhausted all the time wasn’t because she was doing so much but because she was feeling so much.”
I don’t like to describe myself as exhausted, but if it looks like I am I can attest that this would be why. As these authors have described being a mother means feeling deeply. It’s braving the unknown only to feel your way through it. It’s not always easy, but of course it’s worth it.