Remember the show That Girl? Ok, so this show dates me since it aired 1966-1971, but it came to mind as I wanted to write about another girl. This girl... Kelsey. Hopefully we will still be friends after posting a picture I didn't have permission to use, hey, I'm the mother here. I don't often write about my family. Their story is not mine to tell and they may want to tell it themselves someday. In light of the upcoming celebration of mothers on Mother's Day, I want to shed some light on those who made me a mother and call me mom, or in some cases mama! Justin will be always known as our firstborn and only son and will have the added badge of making me a grandma for the first time in August. Hannah is our second born but the first daughter, Kelsey came along two years later, not much of a badge of honor is it? Lauren, our fourth, was born as our last child and gets the title of baby of the family. All four, with a fifth in heaven, have made me the woman I am today. They call me Mom, but they have all played an instrumental part in the forming of how I view the world today. I love them to the moon and back(not sure what that really means, but sounds good!!) But I wanted to tell you about this one who doesn't have a particular motto in the pecking order of the Gates Family. What to say about this girl? She invited me to Albany to celebrate Mother's Day last weekend. She took the time out of her busy schedule of a full-time job and going to school, to plan Friday and Saturday just for me. Ethiopian food, homemade brunch on Saturday morning, a walk through Washington Park and along the Hudson River were highlights. Off to the mall for a pedicure and new shoes to show off my new nail polish were the best way to end our afternoon together. And, yes, there were several cups of coffee to keep us going. Her card to me in essence said thank you for never giving up on her. In fact, it was a music card, when opened, played, I will Survive. Because some days...ok, a lot of days, motherhood is a matter of just surviving until the kids we love so much...are in bed. And that is what I want to leave you with. Even though many days it seems all you do as a mother is survive, we do in fact survive. We can do more than survive whatever season of motherhood we find ourselves in. We can thrive. We can do the next thing, we can serve and love and then love some more. Because the writing in the card thanked me not for the clothes I bought her, or the phone I paid for, or the countless loads of laundry washed or food on the table day in and day out. Yes, those practical acts of love and service do count, but what Kelsey often thanks me for is the unconditional love I(and her dad) have poured into her life. And when I was loving her day in and day out despite what may have happened that day, I wasn't loving her because I knew the outcome. I was loving because Someone had loved me that way. I know first hand the unconditional love of a Heavenly Father, poured out to me, which I then poured into her and Justin, Hannah and Lauren. We aren't, as mothers, promised a certain outcome when we parent to the best of our ability. We press on each day, doing the best we know at this job of 'mothering,' and leave the results with Him. This girl makes me smile...that's her badge!
June 24, 2015~~I just returned from Rochester, NY where we dropped off Lauren to catch a flight to visit her brother Justin and his wife Melissa. Yes, she is flying alone, having to make not one, but two connections before she can land in Casper. Would you expect anything different from a Gates kid? Taking off on their own? Last night Kelsey surprised us by coming home a day early, last we heard she was stuck in St. Thomas. I sat down at my desk to work on something else, and began reading last year's posts. This one is worth re-posting as I write another post about 'the dash.' 2014~~A very long time ago I dreamed about a day. A day like yesterday. Twenty-five plus years ago I was a twenty something mom of two babies twenty-one months apart. A vivid memory of wanting those days to rush by so I could have a day like I had yesterday. Justin and Hannah were great babies, but I felt like I had twins. Need I say anything else? Would June 3, 2014 every be a reality? As a single college student I floundered because all I wanted to do in life was be a wife and mother. Now that I was, with a third baby on the way making our family with three under the age of four, I wondered if I had chosen the right path. I love(d) being a mom but there were days I wanted to trade in my title for something...more. Several years later Lauren is the joy of my old age as she was born in my late thirties. The day in and day out of mothering is not for the faint of heart. To be the mom God has called you to be takes courage, perseverance and faith. Whether you stay at home as a mother, work full-time or part-time outside the home, parenting is a full-time job without many rewards you can put your hands on and feel. The trenches of motherhood are often dark, muddy and lonely wondering if the war will be won in the end. (as a side note Rob and I are watching Band of Brothers in honor of the 70th anniversary of D-day, so trenches are fresh in my mind). Trenches are where the real work is accomplished, often for long periods of time, and I often wondered if I would ever emerge, leaving the mud for good. A day like yesterday began when on the spur of the moment I took off for Albany to visit one of my babies who will turn 23 in a couple of weeks. Since my older three no longer live at home the times of one on one conversation are limited. We ventured into a food co-op where all the food is grown locally and freshly baked or made. Off to Trader Joes to scope out a store my daughters love, I sure hope it's true there's one coming to Syracuse. Lunch was at a an out of the way coffee shop where we were able to take our time, having an adult conversation. Before I turned my car in the direction of home we made a quick stop at another coffee shop where she bought me iced coffee for the road. I really do not like the saying that is said to young moms far too often...The quote is far too cliche' for me and does not begin to encompass all that motherhood is.
You better enjoy your kids while they are home, because you blink and they are adults.I did enjoy them while they were little, the teen years were fun but....and the college years kept me on my knees. But the reward I spoke of earlier in this post, of emerging from the trenches, took the form of a day like yesterday. Those days do come to an end, and the sun is shining on top of the hill of motherhood with a day like yesterday possible for all moms. So press on mom with three little ones, press on mom who is running a taxi everyday, press on mom who has two full time jobs, press on mom whose last child is making you an empty nester. Press on mom... ...a day like yesterday is in your future.
I wish I could say I have my act together, my life organized and heading in one direction. Fact is, I can't lie. If you see me on the street, well..walking, not actually on the street, you will see a pretty much put together person. But this picture sums up the past several weeks and the days to come. It is easy to feel like your head is spinning most of the time. With too much coming and going we sometimes forget to enjoy the go, go, going. Why am I trudging through a bad marriage(not me), why can't I get my finances in order(not me) and why did one of my dearest friends have to die(gain, not me) are just a few questions I've heard this week, causing us to lose focus and our purpose for the day. What is the hub of our heart on a daily basis? Focusing on the problem and not on the Great Problem Solver shows us where our hearts lie. Can I cry out to God in the middle of neediness and affliction? Do I believe He is my only Help and Deliverer? (Psalm 70:5) As Justin left a week ago for a new adventure in Wyoming Hannah arrived back in Lafayette from her overseas travel. Add to the mix a busy teenager and life in the parsonage, this girl in the green shirt has been me. Arriving this week for a visit is my Mom from Iowa along with Lori a life long friend. Kelsey will make her way home this weekend filled with apple picking, birthday celebrations, coffee sipping, including Kopi Luwak, on the deck and a couple of days of memory making before everyone heads back home early next week. A week from Wednesday, October 1, Hannah and I will pile into her Honda Civic with all her earthly belongings(this isn't her car, but you get the idea of what we will be piling into) heading west across country, landing in Phoenix, AZ where she will live with family until she gets a job and apartment. Yes, two children will be thousands of miles away. And yes, I will cry as I head back east on an airplane to my beloved family in New York, church family included. But, I will also be happy for the four children God gave me who are pursuing their dreams, who are living life to the fullest and will continue to cause their momma's (their word for me) to spin.