Have you ever wondered what it is about babies and toddlers that captures our attention?
Of course, it’s because they’re so darn cute. But, more than that I’ve discovered that it’s because they remind us of the things we take for granted.
I remember how in awe I was when I watched my own babies discovering life. But I never appreciated it to the extent I could once I became a grandparent. I wanted to carry them away to a place where they would never lose it. Where the ugliness of life could never enter into the pure joy of life’s discoveries. Now out of 9, my youngest grandchild is 8 and my oldest 26. I wasn’t ready to be a great-grandparent yet. But in becoming one God had a deeper level of pure joy to show me through the eyes of our 14-month-old great-grandson Ryder. As he stands in the rain for the first time in his life. With a smile looking up toward the heavens he lifts his arms as if praising God. He opens his mouth to let the rain in while trying to catch the raindrops with his hands at the same time. He jumps, dances, and giggles as he plays in the pouring rain. If I hadn’t been so awestruck I would have joined him myself. But, I am grateful for the reminder to open my own eyes to the things I take for granted. For those are the grace-filled moments when we get a glimpse of heaven on earth.
Before Tom and I married we’d walk everywhere we had to go because we didn’t have a car back then. We’d walk the blocks of rowhomes where we’d see old couples sitting on their porches. What pressed upon our hearts was how miserable they seemed in each other’s company. We were young and very much in love with our whole life ahead of us. But, seeing this left such an impression on us that I remember saying, “Tommy if we’re lucky enough to grow old together. Let’s promise that we’ll never stop talking, caring and loving each other the same as we do right now.”
I’ve been reading the letters we wrote to each other when Tom went off to college. In this one he wrote, “You know Connie, we’re going to have a beautiful life together. People, will one day look at us when we’ve grown old and say what a perfect marriage they have.” As if I didn’t already love him enough reading those letters made me fall in love with him all over again.
It’s easy to make promises when you have no idea what life will bring your way. Love is like finding a diamond in the rough but holding onto it isn’t enough. To find the real beauty that lies within it, you have to chisel away at all the stuff that hides it’s potential. There’s always been a sparkle that’s shined through our love. However, it takes a lifetime of trial and error chipping away and buffing before the true beauty of its light begins to reflect what we hold so dear.
We no longer let the way people choose to live their life make an impression on us. What we do see is the reality of what is ahead for us. We watched it as we lost our parents and now as we begin to lose more of our lifelong friends. There is no time to waste being miserable over the fact that we’re aging. There’s still so much living and loving to do whether it’s with our spouse, children or friends. It makes us hold onto each other a little tighter and appreciate the time we still have together. As long as we’re alive there’s still time to chip away at the diamond in the rough we hold in the palm of our hands. Maybe that’s been the mission in our life all along. To find the sparkle within ourselves and let it shine through us.
One of my kids asked me what I was doing for Mother’s Day? I said, I didn’t even know it was coming up. I never thought much about my own Mother’s Day celebration. I was always focused on what I could do for my own mother and mother-in-law. It is after all a day set aside to celebrate the mother who raised you. It’s not supposed to be about celebrating yourself as a mother. They’ve both been gone a long time now. But we still think about them on this day remembering who they were and the things they did for us. Most of all how we wish we could still put our arms around them and wish them a happy Mother’s Day. There’s no one else to celebrate and thinking of myself feels selfish. But then I started thinking about it. Why shouldn’t I? I mean, if anyone were to ask me what the greatest accomplishment of my life has been I’d say without hesitation…raising my kids and being their mother. Maybe it’s part of embracing the many years of our life and the things we’ve accomplished. Maybe this is what my Dad meant when I turned 50 and he said, “this is your time now.”
So, as I’m contemplating the question of what I’m going to do for Mother’s Day. I’m also looking out the window at my gardens feeling overwhelmed by all the work I have to do yet. Then it came to me. There isn’t anything I want or need, but I sure could use some help this year getting my gardens weeded, mulched and planted while I’m still nursing my tennis elbow. Why not ask for the best gift of all…the helping hands of my own kids. It won’t even cost them anything, except their time. Doing what Mom’s do I even made sure to plan it on Saturday so my girls could enjoy their own Mother’s Day with their kids on Sunday.
Us Moms are known for being good party planners. But being the caregivers we’ve been has taught us best how to find ways to problem solve too. Leave it to a Mom to find a way to make everyone happy, but maybe part of learning to embrace our age means it’s time to include ourselves in the equation.
Happy Mother’s Day”