In Praise of My Mother

It’s my Mum’s birthday tomorrow and as I sat and tried to think of what to write in her birthday card earlier I found myself struggling both for the words to write and for the space to jot down all that I would like to tell her.  I consider myself hugely blessed to have her as my mummy. In fact, I happen to be richly blessed by a wonderful godmother who has become like my second mother and by a third, spiritual mother.  These three women have invested their wisdom, love, care and time in me over many years and I am indebted to them for that.  I know I am spoilt to have such amazing women around me.

For today though, this is all about my mother…..

Mum and I are blessed to have a wonderfully honest and kind relationship.  She is generous, fun, a free spirit, ambitious, successful, gentle, modest, hard-as-nails and so very loving.  She laughs with her head thrown back, full throttle – an embarrassing habit that I have adopted.  She is energetic, passionate, petite and loves the sunshine and flowers.  She gives running commentaries whilst watching films and finds board games far too stressful! She has encouraged me to travel and seek adventure as she has and her advice is normally right.

My mother is totally different from me and also very much the same.  She has prayed me through some tough times and hung on when I flew the nest and started to forge my own path through life.  She has a fabulous, hilarious habit of announcing over breakfast with typical nonchalance, a huge pearl of timely wisdom, straight out of the mouth of God, for the big things in my life.  My Mum doesn’t know what authority she carries and it makes me smile.

And yet I didn’t realise until recently how hard our struggle with infertility has been for her.  In the beginning I could protect her from my pain.  We lived on different continents and it was easy enough not to talk about the tough days when we did see my parents because there were plenty of other things to catch up on.  As time dragged on though and the months turned to a year and the year turned to years, the medical tests and the wondering started. And the wondering also started to turn to yearning for my mother.

I didn’t realise that it’s possible for our mothers to experience jealousy of other women they see playing with their grandchildren just as I have envied mothers and their children.  I didn’t know that she would sit and chat with childless women and have to end the conversation abrubtly because it was just too close to the bone.  I didn’t know that God would ask her to do her own journey of faith, surrender and hope in this time. I have been saddened to watch her wrestle with that longing to see her own child’s dreams fulfilled whilst being unable to do anything to bring it into being.  I have watched her protective parental instinct kick in as she watches and waits alongside us.  I have listened to her voice her frustration at God as she wonders why her prayers for us and for her family remain unanswered. I haven’t witnessed a lot of the grief she has felt for us and for herself in this time but I know it is there and it hurts and she has done her very best not to show it.  We have cried together and I am in no doubt that we have cried apart.

In the beginning it made sense to do this by ourselves, but as time passes I have found that the need to be held by prayer, by strong arms, by other people’s faith has meant that it’s necessary to share.  But it is a big ask, especially for our parents, to be only a little way back from the frontline of infertility.  For them to experience every twist and turn as we do.  For them to see how it crushes those they love and to not be able to fix it as parents want to.  For them to have no answers and yet stay firm in believing that there is more to come and we have not reached the end.

I didn’t know at the beginning what our infertility would cost my mother.

So this post is in praise of my courageous, feisty mother.  The woman who taught me to have dignity and strength when the going gets tough and who has demonstrated that grit and determination go a long way.  I may not have children yet but I have a mother who blesses me daily – and that’s a very good place to be.

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