Saturday, May 9, 2009

Does Sacrifice Even Begin to Describe It?

Motherhood, if it is done well, involves an insane amount of sacrifice.

Conveniently, (as Mother's Day is tomorrow) I have been recently noticing all the little things my own mother taught and instilled in me decades ago.

As I work with my three little girls, teaching them practical and everyday things, I am reminded of how much my mom poured into me, and how much of an easier transition I had into "real life" than the average girl because of all she taught me.

Take this morning: Ruby is helping me make breakfast and I ask her if she can remember how to mix waffle batter. Ironically, she answers, "Very thoroughly?" and I remind her that we want to mix batter very little so the waffles won't be tough. How do I know this? Because, once upon a time, I was the little girl learning lessons in the kitchen from my mother.

And a little later at the breakfast table: a mini-grammar lesson; explaining why we use the words "may I" or "will you," instead of "can" when we ask for something. I suddenly am struck with how frequently I pass along the little tidbits my mom once taught me. Be it an efficient way of doing something, the right way to apologize, or a Scripture verse set to music, I cannot count the number of times already in their short lives that I have responded to the question, "Who taught you that, Mommy?": "Nana taught me that when I was little."

By God's grace, I have my mom to thank for giving me a head start in every day living. Teaching me to do my own laundry from the time I was barely tall enough to put my clothes into the washer (with big sister helping); walking me through numerous aspects of baby and child care; including me in the cycle of daily chores and requiring that I help make dinner, menu plan and grocery shop, to name a few life skills. (Not to mention the formal education of homeschooling!)

About 10 years ago, as a counselor at a camp for high school and college students, I began to realize what a difference that upbringing made for me. At the front desk, I often had puzzled students in their teens and twenties ask how one goes about doing things like laundry, and it struck me that parents who don't teach their children simple things like this are doing them (and their children's spouses) a disservice. As if going out to the real world isn't hard enough, these parents compound the stress their children experience leaving home by not requiring them to learn simple life skills beforehand. So junior has to not only learn how to make it on his own, but how to do menial tasks that he could have learned and mastered years ago.

So parents who teach their children daily life skills have my respect, naturally. But my mom did so much more than just that. She is probably the most unselfish person I know. By her example she has taught me so much more than how to cook or diagram a sentence or set up a ratio (like that example, Mom?:). Throughout my life, I have seen her faithfully put her own needs (I'm not even talking desires) on the back burner in order to serve her family. Honestly, I have no idea how my parents raised all eight of us without going bonkers, and how my mom made it through those years with so much on her plate. Each day with my three girls gives me a small taste of what it must have been like, and my appreciation for her dedication grows the longer I have the privilege of being a mommy.

I can't end this post without expressing gratitude for another mom: my husband's. Sandy, you raised an amazing young man. Thank you for pouring yourself into your boys with such fervor and love. I am a happy benefactor of your years of hard work. Know that I appreciate you on a daily basis!

Happy Mother's Day, all you moms! Children don't always voice it, but we are indeed grateful for all your sacrifice and dedication. May God make all of us moms worthy of the task He's entrusted to us.