Growing up my parents told me I could do anything I wanted to do, be anything I wanted to be when I grew up. Except for a couple misguided months where I thought I might be a WNBA player, I always had my heart set on one thing: being a Mom. Well, that isn’t entirely true. When I was three I insisted I wanted to be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich maker. While the hoop dreams didn’t pan out (shocker), I have managed to combine both of my other aspirations as a mommy and peanut butter and jelly/peanut butter and honey/ peanut butter and jelly toast/ peanut butter with no crust maker!
Seriously, being a mom is all I ever wanted to do. This past Fall I found a “What I will be when I grow up” kindergarten paper of mine. There scrawled in crayon was written “M-O-M-M-Y. Sometimes I still need to pinch myself. I am living my dream.
And I think there is one predominant reason that while other kids were dreaming of being astronauts and doctors and marine biologists, I was dreaming of raising a brood of beautiful, happy children. It is the same reason that when all my friends were graduating High School with set majors and big career plans I felt inside that something was missing. There were no lectures on making the perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And it is the same reason that while many of my peers were graduating with honors and heading to graduate school that I felt most fulfilled by the sweet, precious bundle in my arms. I had never felt more content, more in my stride. Being a mom was all I ever wanted, and I believe it was what I was meant to do. The reason? I had the perfect hero. Not a fireman, or a teacher or an interior designer. I had my mom.
She was not always the one I chose to write about for those “role model” papers in school. But that doesn’t change the truth. My mom always was, and always will be, my greatest role model and my most un-sung hero. She has been for me the steadiest person in my life-from the days where she made me sandwiches until now when she makes them for my hungry kids. She is unwavering. She would scoff at that statement but it could not be more accurate. I chose other people to write about for my role model papers mostly because I knew she would always be there. I knew she would never be hurt, that she understood it was flashier to write about someone everybody would recognize as a hero.
But these days it is hard for anyone to look at my mom and see anything less than a hero. Throughout my dad’s diagnosis and the wake of that she has been nothing short of amazing. Just amazing. I am in awe of her strength-the strength that God supplies. I am in awe of her selfless acts of love. She is truly the most giving person I know-the epitome of a care-giver. And not just for my dad, but for all of us in the midst of processing, grieving and adjusting to our new normal.
I have adopted Galatians 6:9 as one of my favorite verses for parenting and for life. It says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” When I think about what this verse looks like my mind comes to rest on my mom. She sowed good as we were growing up. She sowed good in the moments of toddler temper tantrums, school-age sibling rivalries, middle school meltdowns, teenage rebelling, mental health issues, medical issues, spiritual battles and young adult misdirection. She has sowed good when I am at my ugliest, good when I need to talk…again, sowed good when she is exhausted beyond what she thought she could bear. And she continues to sow good as my sisters and I are grown and she now faces the reality of taking care of my dad. She has never given up, although I know at times she wondered how she could go on in the face of some real doozies over the years. And I respect her for it. I respect her more than anyone else I have ever known. And I love her for it. Similar to my relationship with God I love her because she first loved me, and in a sense, gave herself up for me. My mom would never want to be mentioned in a sentence paralleling herself to Jesus, but when I think of tangible examples of unconditional, long suffering, sacrificial love nothing fits more aptly than the example my mom has been for me my whole life.
Just as I love to tell my kids, “I wouldn’t want to be anyone else’s Mommy but yours. We are meant for each other”, the same is true of my mom. I wouldn’t ever want another Momma. There is no one in the world who could compare to her. Our hearts are meant for each other. She is my hero-in every sense of the word. You may not find her name on a plaque in a Hall of Fame (unless it is one for stalking former Syracuse basketball players. I am pretty sure she and her college room mate would make it in that one). You will never see her name in lights. There are no books on a shelf with her name on the cover or artwork hanging in a gallery with her signature. No one asks her for her autograph. She is not the VIP at a party. But she will leave a legacy, so much bigger than her 5 foot 2 (and a half!!) inch frame. She has sown good. And her legacy is love, “just” love. Just what Jesus wants our legacy to be. (I also credit her with my FANTASTIC sense of humor. Peter is very thankful for that as well.) I pray her legacy can be carried on by me and my kids, a legacy of love.
I love you, Momma. You are greater than you would ever believe and loved more than I can put into words. You amaze me. You inspire me. You motivate me. Thank you for loving me in a way no one else could. Thank you for modeling faith in adversity. Thank you for giving even when you had nothing left to give. Thank you for teaching me to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.