Now every mother knows that after you give birth something magic happens… within a few short hours you forget what the labor pain was like! I remember my mom talking about “God’s sneaky trick” and how when she was 8 months pregnant with my brother Aaron she suddenly recalled giving birth to me and in a moment of desperation told my dad, “I can’t do this!”
His uber compassionate, now infamous reply? “I think it might be a little late for that.” *grin*
I discovered this magic/trick/miracle hours after Cohen had been born. My sister Beth was the first person to arrive after he was born and once he had been nursed and was asleep, it was my turn to get a bath. She helped me into the giant tub and as I washed my hair, she said, “isn’t it freaking you out to bathe in the same tub you just labored in?” It was then that I realized I had already forgotten those labor pangs.
Well, at about 3a last night I remembered.
And no, I am not pregnant.
But I had the craziest dream that I was… My friend David is a master dream interpreter I just discovered, so he ought to have some fun with this. I was very pregnant and Cohen was still himself, but with black hair and only a year old (just crawling). I was in labor and I texted my family and friends to let them know and then I started walking around looking for someone to watch Cohen so I could go to the hospital…but he kept crawling away! And I have kept having to stop because of those contractions! Everyone kept telling me to go to the hospital and I kept insisting that I had time, though I kept thinking to myself I really didn’t (after all, Cohen was born in 3 hours). I woke up and those labor pangs were so real. But I jumped up and thank God! No labor and no soon to be born baby.
It only struck me as funny when I was drinking coffee hours later in the morning and realized I had my first real giving birth dream on Mother’s Day.
This afternoon I was thinking about Mother’s Day and mothers…about my own wonderful mom and my grandma’s- one of whom has been gone now for 5 years and one who is at the end of her life, battling pancreatic cancer with dignity and stamina. I thought about my aunts and the women who have in their own way been a mother to me. I thought about my sister Beth and how she’s already a mom, though Lucy has yet to take her first breath of air…
…and something really beautiful occurred to me.
I had the best of teachers when it comes to parenting. At some point when I was little I told my mom I was going to grow up and be a much better mom than her. We laugh about this now, of course (that pre-teen age with girls is brutal), but in my quiet moments I now hope to be half the mom she is. Nobody is perfect and no family and no mom is either, but the older I get, the more I realize just how blessed I was to be born to Christine Ann Holzbauer Adelsberger (aren’t you glad she didn’t hyphenate that one? whew!).
Mom was also quick to listen, slow to speak, and (mostly) slow to become angry (Holzbauers are known for reacting, after all *grin*). She always treated each of us like individuals with valid thoughts and feelings and input, even when we were small. She would sit quietly and listen while I ranted off insecurities or practiced science fair speeches or needed a good cry. She gave wise advice while I was growing up and managed to balance life with the three kids she gave birth to and the two she adopted and the others who came and went. Mom always worked doing jobs others would’ve passed up… babysitting and cleaning, so she could be home with us. She was always ready to pick you up from school if you got sick or drop off the homework you mistakenly left on the counter. She’ll never let me forget the time she drove almost 90mph to get a science fair document to me at Ohio Northern just in time for district science fair. She let us stay home from school to drink coffee and hang out with her. She let us have our friends over. She staked out the girl/boy friends with enviable insight. She navigated our transitions to adulthood better than most…
I know there are years of support I will never be able to pay my mom back for. She was thousands of miles away with a 3 hr time difference, but still when my life was falling apart she was never more than a phone call away… even at 3a. She talked me off of innumerable ledges, listened to me cry, heard how far away I’d gotten from myself and somehow kept a level head through it all. She flew out when the bottom dropped out of my life and helped me survive the absolute toughest, most confusing week of my life. She made a space for me and a very tiny Cohen at home again. Though nothing was right in our lives, home still felt like home. She cooked. She did our laundry. She got up at night with Cohen and walked him when I couldn’t stand the screaming for another second. She rubbed my back and told me it would be okay, though I am sure she was wondering how as much as I was. She prayed for us. And even when we moved out and got our place, I still was distraught and she’d stop by with diapers and groceries I didn’t have money for. She’d stay and clean the house. She let me borrow her van until I could afford a car. She watched Cohen so I could try my legs at working again…
…and really that’s not even the half of what she did.
I really don’t know how Cohen and I would’ve made it that first year without my parents and especially Mom. I know we would’ve made it, but I have this sneaking suspicion we not have made it as well.
And you know what? My mom didn’t have a charmed childhood. Mom is the 7th of 8 kids and by the time she was born my grandpa was working 3 jobs trying to keep things afloat. Grandma Holzbauer was very sick with heart problems and often not able to do much. By 14, my mom was grocery shopping and making dinner and taking care of her younger brother, James.
Mom was loved, but life was hectic and time split 8 ways didn’t equal a lot, especially when her mom was so ill and her dad was so busy. Grandpa was the local preacher who was doubling as a preacher and tripling as a janitor.
So…it wasn’t ideal, but you know what? Mom grew up knowing about the Lord, about the importance and value of family and how to love. My grandparents were both remarkable people who loved each other like crazy even after 48 years of marriage and created a safe, God fearing home for their children. Grandma was a woman of character… a woman who knew how to love God when everything wasn’t okay; a woman who knew who she was; a woman who knew what it meant to have patient endurance.
And you know what? Grandma Holzbauer really didn’t have a childhood. She and her two younger sisters were abandoned by their mother before she was old enough to even be in school. Her alcoholic father loved them, but couldn’t care for them. So her grandmother raised them for a few years until she couldn’t do it anymore. And then the three little Waters girls were sent to the orphanage. Grandma watched as her two younger sisters were adopted, but she never was. She lived in the orphanage until she graduated High School (at the top of her class). Life in the orphanage was unhappy and unsafe. She wanted to go to college and she did, all the while living with a pastor and his wife and caring for their children. She went to Bible college because somewhere in the early years of this abandoned little girl with drunken roots had fallen in love with Jesus. Maybe it was in part thanks to the man at church who showed her a little kindness by giving her a dime each Sunday… maybe it was the one place she felt safe… maybe it was that the idea being adopted by God just made sense to someone who longed for an earthly counterpart. I don’t know… but Jesus got a hold of her heart. She married a preacher, had 8 children that lived, and in the latter part of her life was able to fulfill her dream of being a missionary.
Who knows what her mom’s life was like…? Grandma tried and tried to locate her sisters and her mom, but died never having been able to connect with them. Still, its safe to say my great grandma probably hadn’t experienced much parenting. After all, she left her girls in a time when people just rarely did that…
..and still my grandma, Clydella, rose above her lack of parenting to go on and love her four boys and four girls very well. She gave them the things she didn’t have… love, safety, security, discipline, a love for God, a sense of family…
..and my mom, Tina, has given to her 7 children (and many others she has been a surrogate mom to over the years) a lot of things Clydella couldn’t give her due to health and resources.
This is the beautiful thing that occurred to me this afternoon… We all get a choice as mothers and what we choose will impact generations. Some of us get to continue in the legacy we’ve been given and its a good one. We get to tweak things a little here and there, but only to improve on what was very good to start with. Others may be starting from scratch, building a new legacy in your family; a better one.
And its to those of you who fall into that latter category that I want most of all to commend and encourage. Forging a new path can be hard work, but its rewarding. And even if you don’t think you have the tools, God will help you shape them and His Spirit will lead you. Don’t give up! I think of how different everything would’ve been if Clydella Holzbauer hadn’t decided her children would get what she was never given and by the grace of God, done it.
There is redemption in being a mother. God bless all of you mothers who are weaving a legacy for your children!
Happy Mother’s Day!