Life, Motherhood, Love & villages

Life is precious.

I’ve been keeping up with the plight of my sweet friend whose tiny baby has been in ICU for RSV. (If you’ve been in my home, you know her, too; she takes the beautiful photos of the girls) I’ve read updates on Facebook, texted her because I can’t stop thinking about them, and added little “Doc” to my heart and prayer list at home as well as at church. Last Thursday, Mom went to see him and I was so thankful to hear how good he looked, how his coloring was perfect and I just knew he was going to be ok in the face of this scary virus. But as usual before I hooked up my pump during lunch on Friday, I got out my phone to look at Facebook to check on her. I was shaken to the core to read, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” AHHH!!! He just looked so good…how did this happen? Then, I read on… it was not her baby but her sister-in-law, leaving her husband and two young children.

I didn’t quit shaking. It is awful. I only met her once, but she was friendly and kind and obviously a wonderful mother and friend.I keep thinking about children not having a mother.

Motherhood is precious.

This is not about me, but it has affected me and I want to share my thoughts. Little is more tragic than children growing up without their mother and I’ve been slammed with the realization that this business of raising Anna Cate and Molly is a privilege not to take for granted. Kissing their boo-boos, pouring the juice, snuggling in the morning, pulling the pony tail just right, crying it out, fighting it out (reserved for the teenage years, I’m sure), teaching the manners, re-teaching the manners, saying I love you, doing the laundry over and over and over again, cutting up the food, holding vomit in my hand, wiping the stinky bottoms, modeling the manners, saying I love you, more laundry, more kisses, talking it out, repeat and then it will become a whole new set of rituals with homework, sports, balancing hormones but it will still be manners, love, laundry, repeat. This motherhood opportunity is not granted since it depends on the fragility of life.

I just can’t get these children out of my mind. I know from watching my parents and husband lose their mother the raw ache, how as my Dad says, “it is a primordial pain.” But something is just sickening about a child, a real child (not child as in we are all child of God way), to lose their mother, and for a mama not to get to raise her kids. I’m thinking more about being here as a mother. It is both a duty and a gift.

On motherhood and life….
My sister-in-law Becki gave me these great books for Christmas including inspiration for busy motherhood, and the quote "The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children" touched me. It speaks to me that the art of living isn't just about schlepping yourself to take care of someone else and of their physical needs or emotional needs but it is to balance out living life myself, too. Lately, I have really been thinking about the fact that I want to make sure I introduce my daughters to art, music, and culture early for these are important aspects of living. I want to take Anna Cate and Molly to more museums, less movies, read more books and have more deep conversations. I know I'm a bit of a nerd, but rest assured, the cool Dad will make sure my kids get their fair share of pop culture, tv and movies.

On Saturday, after a precious little boy’s 1st birthday party…

We went to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. 
I went here on field trip for teachers and loved it and was willing to risk taking my kids to a place that is free. We can spend 30 minutes or an hour and then leave. If we paid $20 a ticket, I might turn into the Mom that says, “you WILL STAY AND ENJOY every exhibit here” leaving my children to loathe the museum experience.

But we let her lead the way, feeling quite comfortable there. Molly was awesome.

So, we leisurely strolled through a few exhibits. She gazed and commented – not necessarily about art. “Look, Mommy. I can read, that says, “do NOOTTT touch.”

On the way home, I asked Anna Cate what her favorite piece of art was and she said, “I liked the scribble scrabble one.”

On love…
Friday evening, Molly’s high chair (with her in it) tipped because Anna Cate tripped over the chair. As I’m holding Molly tightly having just heard hours ago about Melanie, Anna Cate said, “you still love me, right?” So I started holding them both tightly…. “Of course, I do.”

My girl gets what love is though; maybe she doesn’t quite understand unconditional love yet. I didn’t until I became her mother.

A valuable understanding. I hope I’m around to show her more about love, but if not, I know my children are loved by others and that gives me peace. When I told Anna Cate that some little children lost their mom, and if something ever happened to me, I hope she knows how much I love her and I would hate not to be here to be her Mommy. She said, “that’s ok because Norah can be my Mommy.”..or Aunt Becki, or Patti, or Nana. Though the thought seems light to her, every prayer since then, she has ended with, “help the children who don’t have a Mommy” so maybe she is aware of the value of motherhood, too. I probably didn’t until I became one.

When I got a snow day this week, we enjoyed a lunch/play date with dear friends at Nana Sharon's home. These friends changed the course of my life.  And now, they often help me navigate it, sharing my journey. I'm so grateful for them.

(Sharon is a beautiful hostess and everything was delicious especially the cupcake^)

On community…
Recently in Sunday school, we discussed what to do when you hear a parent losing their patience with achild in a store. Patti asked, “in a perfect world, what would you do?” I said, in a perfect world, you would live in a small town, be in community with them, know that family and that child by name and be able to say, “you look like you are having a hard day, let me take ___ home for an afternoon.” A friend kidded me, “like Centerville, Tn.” I said, “that is not exactly what I meant.”

But, maybe it was….as much as my heart hurts for these children who lost their mama, I’m comforted a tad because I know the village who will help raise them.  I also know first-hand the void that friends will fill when a mother (BJ’s) is gone. (In September, I wrote about both villages).

Susie’s void in our lives creates an irreplaceable loss, but Anna Cate and Molly have a few special relationships that fill the gap a bit. 

I used to think that these women loved my girls because they saw a piece of Susie in Anna Cate to love, but BJ thinks they love my girls for Susie. She can’t love them so they will. I bet the same will happen in all sorts of ways for the Porters. I know my home town and I believe it will.  
It takes a village.
Perchance, I’m still here on an August day 13 and 17 years in my future, hopefully on some beautiful college campus, when tears are streaming down my cheek as I’m giving my girl one last hug before a new chapter unfolds in her life, I have promised myself that I will think of Melanie Porter and her children. I will say a quiet thank you for the privilege of raising my daughter, of being her mother. I will think of Melanie when I hug Anna Cate, when I embrace Molly. You don’t quit being a mother when they are18, so I’ll say silent testaments of gratitude in the midst of many steps beyond that, but I will never forget the gift that is raising a child, of being a mother.

One lamp - thy mother's love - amid the stars
Shall lift its pure flame changeless, and before
The throne of God, burn through eternity -
Holy - as it was lit and lent thee here.
~Nathaniel Parker Willis

I will hold the Porter family on my heart and in my prayers. So, if you are reading this I’m asking for your prayers if you pray, your chants if you chant, and your light if you can send it.


Norah said…
Beautiful! Please no more talking about sending our girls to college! I am just not ready for that! :) Let's get through Kindergarten.
Heidi said…
sorry for your loss. your post made me think.

we are so blessed to be mamas and have our health.
i love reading reminders. and the food cutting and stinky bums go away sooo fast!