if they don’t, screw them” We were pulling down the gravel drive from our house, heading to my middle school. It had been a harrowing week of girl fights, if my memory hasn’t failed me. She no more than said it, then she followed with this: “And please of all things I have said to you or taught you, don’t let that be the one thing you remember”. We laughed.
Hey, Mom! Fifteen years later, its not the only thing, but it is one of the funnier things I remember from those tumultuous years of my life.
My mom is one of the most incredible and quirkiest people I know (and that’s saying something when you have Shane and Beth in your family) If you go over to the house after dark, you will find her on the back porch in her hot tub, often with a glass of red wine (about 3 oz), sipping and watching the stars and praying out loud. They looked at houses recently and mom turned down any of them that didn’t have or couldn’t have a hot tub. “Where would I pray?” she mused half jokingly.
Of course to understand why my mom needs time alone, in the dark you might have to consider that she’s the only women in a house full of men and boys a couple in transition from the latter to the former. [Matt, who is 20 but has the developmental level of a seven year old, Ben whose a month away from 18 and then 6 year old Joe and 4 year old Josh (who now insists on being called “Little Bubbly Loo-Woo”)]
Her days are filled with temper tantrums and brotherly squabbles and reminding people to get a shower or wash their hands after the potty and to take their medicine. Its really a wonder she’s as sane as she is! *grin*
All kidding aside, Mom is one of the most brave, most selfless women I know. She approaches her very unconventional life with a sense of humor that lends itself to great stories and unexpected hope. She wakes each day to a sort of crazy monotony…answering the same questions over and over again (especially the ones that pertain to why she can’t let Matt drive) and dealing with the same issues. And yet, its hard to find her at a moment when she doesn’t have a hysterical story from the day. I am sure she has moments when she wonders what in the world she was thinking to adopt 2 sets of brothers in her late 30’s and 40’s, she never lets on to the boys. They all light up when she comes into the room and there is no doubt each one of them knows that their Mom loves them.
You don’t really know what brave is until you see someone take in and love children that she isn’t sure she will get to keep. A lot of good intentioned people would turn away from the heartbreak, but not my Mom. She finds the inner strength and faith to weather the kind of heartbreak few will let themselves know. She took in Ben and Matt, knowing that possibly both of them were mentally challenged. She nurtured them and taught them- these two little boys who had never seen electricity and who at the ages of 3 and 5, couldn’t speak a word. Now Ben is going to graduate from High School and go to college for computer engineering and Matt can read and write and work. No one could believe how far they had come when the adoption court hearing happened 8 years after the boys came to live with us. For all of the years in between my mom took care of them and loved them, not knowing if all of her efforts would end in their return to their ill-equipped parents. And you’d think after that was settled, she’d never let herself go through it again. But she has. She continues to mother challenging little boys with no guarantees that everything will work just fine, she continues to hope and to teach them about Jesus, she continues to spend nights communing with God from her favorite quiet place in hopes that He will move heaven and earth and the stars to let them grow up safely.
Mom was technically a “stay at home mom” although she’s always worked by baby sitting and/or cleaning homes in the evening or working as a parent aid. She’s never held a glamorous position, but she’s has always sacrificed to give us kids the things we needed and often more than that. She works now to be able to put Joe and Little Bubby Loo Hoo in a private school where they aren’t labeled and get the smaller classrooms they need.
In a lot the same way as my dad, my mom is no respecter of persons. She loves some of the most unlovely and misunderstood people around. She works with those who have completely messed up their lives and even when she can’t stand their actions, she treats them with respect and gives of herself to try and help them change. She even takes Joe and Josh’s mom out to eat and treats her like a queen when she comes to visit them on an occasional weekend. I always tease that Mom’s kindness to her has won her a direct ticket to heaven.
In the last years that have been trying in my own life, I really came into daily contact with how blessed I am to have a mom I can call at 4am and one who will come over and help me clean when I feel like I can’t get up and one who will always be on my side. She tells this story of how one time when I was about 10 I told her I was going to grow up and be a way better mommy than she was… we’ve laughed about that, but in the back of my mind, I hope now to be half the wonderful mother she is.
I know all of the parenting advice says not to be friends with your children at the expense of being their parent and I agree with that. But I do think there is something to be said for being friends with your children. We all had the unique blessing of calling her mom and I am glad to report we all know her as our friend too.
She is fiercely loyal, not afraid to be outside of the “norm”, a person of deep questions and easy laughter, she is trustworthy and has a keen ability to judge character. Full of insight and real-down-in-the-dirt-nitty-gritty- love, she has carved out a life that her children are blessed to walk in.
I think in turn, God has made her look younger as, you know, a “bonus” of sorts. *grin* Although she’s 23 years my senior, we are routinely asked if we are sisters! My mom’s beauty has grown as she has aged – its kind of like all of that goodness has seeped its way out into the skin and eyes. With very little make up on and her hair in ponytail, sometimes it strikes me just how radiant she is. I hope Beth and I got those genes! *grin*
We all love you, Mom. You are the Proverbs 31 woman. (the only thing the writer missed was ‘she has a serious prayer life in her hot tub *grin*) HAPPY BIRTHDAY! (and no, I am not going to tell everyone online what birthday this is)
10 [c] A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.