When I set out on the road to motherhood, I am not sure what I expected. I wanted a child, my husband and I both. We shared in many of the ideas of how to raise a child. We were excited. But I don't think that it was until Lydia came along that I really discovered what my motherhood experience really meant to me.
With Ellen much of my focus was trying to survive. She was the first, everything was perfect. She was involved in a lot, she was sheltered and she pretty much got everything I thought was right for her. I was in love, I was full of bliss. However, I was without direction. I was longing for her to have lots of friends, to have the perfect toys, the most of everything that did not matter.
Allison came along 19 short months later. Life was challenging. On maternity leave I knew I wanted to stay at home with her. I just knew that my children longed to have me in their lives all of the time and they deserved it. During my maternity leave God heard my cry and I was laid off from my job. I did start part-time at our church almost immediately. But I felt like this was good. We still had enough money to give them all of the necessities and I was mostly focused on them. I felt like I had a little more direction. We discussed faith but I was still focusing on things of this world to make us happy.
We tried for a while to have Lydia. We were just about ready to accept that God had made our family perfect at four when the test (our last one and I said I was buying no more) was positive. We were so happy. At 20 weeks there was a possibility our child would have Down syndrome. This was really "new" to our vocabulary. While we knew people who had children with Down syndrome, and friends who also carried an extra 21st Chromosome, it was new to us. It challenged me to really soul search of what it meant to be a mom and to love beyond myself. After a day or so of living with that possibility we were again elated with this new possibility.
I remember praying on my "prayer bike" (a term my ladies Bible study friends gave to me because I prated out loud while I biked), Lord please let Your Will be done. If this baby has Down syndrome, give me the strength and the wisdom. I also prayed for a healthy baby. My love for our Lord grew each passing day while I awaited this special gift to be born. My faith strengthened and I did not even realize what was happening. God was preparing me.
Again, at 34 weeks another new reality set in. Not only would we be having a child who would carry a little something extra, but there were several complications. I found out that there was a heart defect with our sweet Lydia and other complications that would go undiagnosed until she was born. Now I really had to do some soul searching and figure out how I was going to love this child. No amount of money or stuff could change this situation. However, faith could; however, God is the ultimate healer and He could give me rest when no one else could.
At that point, 34 weeks pregnant I knew that the journey I was now on was going to change me forever, it was going to change me as a mom. The stuff became less important and reading books to the girls and watching them play and interact became super important. Working and making a buck was something of a distant memory. Keeping myself healthy to give Lydia everything she could have was the most important thing possible.
At that moment the legacy that I leave behind (my children) was the most important thing in the world. If we had to live in our car, if we had everything stripped of us; it made no difference. As long as I was with my children, as long as we had our faith, as long as we placed our lives at Jesus' feet, everything would be OK. I am not sure how, but it would be OK.
The next moments, seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months I would rely fully on God to get me through. He would show me the way and give me the strength to get through some of the hardest days of my life. He would show me why it is important to be a mom and what the meaning of life is. The stuff became trivial as time with my children, my husband, my family became the most important thing to me. Making sure that my children had a deep love for the Lord. Making sure that my children were obedient and had manners. Making sure my children understood what respect was and most of all making sure my children saw an example of love, self-less serving love. The kind where you put others before yourself no matter what.
I give thanks to God for giving me Lydia. She saved me. She showed me the importance of being a mom. She taught me one of life's best gift...family. She taught me love and sacrifice. She taught me the value of just being yourself and fighting with everything you have inside of yourself. She taught me why I am a mom and how important that legacy is to leave behind.
You see, just by being her, she will have taught her entire family (and those around her) how to love with your whole heart, how to see things black and white, how to be so determined you prove all of the people wrong, how to break through stereo types, how to break down barriers, how to forgive, how to find joy in everything, and how to cease EVERY moment and make it the most special thing. And she does not have to do anything other than being herself.
I am blessed that I had an amazing mom who gave me this same legacy. She gave me foundational cornerstones that I was able to build my life by. She gave me unconditional love, support, forgiveness. Things were not perfect, but she understood what it was to be a mom and why God had called her to be a mom. She gave her all to her children. I am so proud to be called her daughter and I love her so much. I am not very good at saying that, but I believe that she is one of the most incredible moms. She continues to show that every single day. She, without question, left everything at home to come stay with us at the Ronald McDonald's House to, in essence, raise my other children. She did it with grace and beauty. Thank you mom.
I have also had the privilege to see my sisters raise beautiful families. I long to be closer to them, but often times I am better at shutting people out than letting them in. They parent with such a gentle, caring, giving heart. I am so proud of them and proud to be an auntie of two beautiful nieces and three handsome nephews. I am blessed to be walking in this journey of motherhood with them. I am honored to learn from some great moms. Thank you for being a wonderful influence on me.
As we celebrate Mother's Day this year, I realize how many wonderful mother's God has placed in my life that I may learn from. That I may continue to reach towards that goal of leaving a lasting legacy.
The other day someone told me that I was so special because God chose me to be Lydia's mom. While those compliments are good to hear, I have to say that I am no more special that the next mom. While I know that this is not always the case, I would like to believe that any mom would do anything for their child; no matter what it takes. Each one of my children require a different type of parenting and no one will ever know what it is like to raise Allison, Ellen or Lydia besides me and my husband (well all of the other communities that it takes to raise a child, but you get my point!). This is our journey and I vow to continue to do what it takes to raise my child, to give them every opportunity, and to give them a foundation of God, values, respect, and manners. Motherhood is a gift and one that should not be taken lightly. We need to honor that gift and give it our all, after all; every single child deserves that.
I once thought that giving my children stuff and money and things would make good children. Now I know that giving them the opportunities, those foundational cornerstones of a lasting faith, respect, manners, discipline are the best things that I can do for them. By pouring my all into my children I am richly blessed beyond any earthly treasure. I thank God for each of my children, but especially for Lydia because she is the one that caused me to realize my purpose.