Sitting here this Saturday morning with a favorite cup of tea, I find I have much to be thankful for this Mother’s Day, May 14th 2017. Three years ago, I decided to put my family first. Now, I believe my motives have always been to put the needs of my family first but in what capacity, financial or emotional support? For many years, we struggled to make ends meet and set goals for me to gain positions that would benefit the family financially. Such a strategy can come at the cost of a person’s emotional wellbeing which is likely more important over the long term than financial stability.
In 2014, my daughter asked me to move closer to where she and her family lived to help her and her fiancé realize their goal of completing their college education. Between them, they were the proud parents of two sweet children, my grandchildren. You can imagine the chaos which represented their lives, working full time at jobs with odd hours, children in school, parents in school and all the work that goes along with being parents and running a household. Fortunately, I found work within a hour’s drive of their home, instead of eight hours away as I had been for the previous three years.
The decision to move was part of another process that began in 2013. My church at the time, St. John’s Episcopal, in Camden, Arkansas, recommended that I and another parishioner go through the Discernment Process which helps identify potential deacons and priests for the Episcopal Church. It involves meeting weekly with a team selected by the Diocese of Arkansas to probe deeply into our desire to be servants to our church families. The second step in the process involves a meeting with Committee on Ministry where one is interviewed and it is determined which candidates proceed to the formal training provided for deacons and priests. If selected, the training lasts for three years.
I was selected to be interviewed by the Committee on Ministry, however, I admit that during Discernment, I began to realize that I was not ready for the responsibility of being either a deacon or a priest. Now, I love the Episcopal Church, have been a member from the cradle, love its pageantry, its format, its comradery, everything associated with it. One question kept tugging at me throughout discernment, how was I to lead parishioners if work with my personal family remained unfinished? So, when the Commission on Ministry didn’t select me to enter training, I was relieved! Now I could get on with my family who still needed me to help with their personal goals.
Let me say, when I refer to my family, I speak of my immediate or nuclear family which includes myself and my two children, a daughter, and a son. They have been my world since birth and I credit them with helping me become the person I am today. We were a close family until their teen years. With all the angst of adolescence we had challenges that resulted in our lives being pulled apart for a few years. In 2014 though, an opportunity had presented itself for us to reconnect and work together as a committed unit.
Once I realized I wanted to be part of the team to help my daughter and her family, the Universe and the Almighty intervened to make things happen in a miraculous way. I travelled to my daughter’s community for one job interview that didn’t pan out but another opportunity, presented as “Oh, well, I’ll be in the area than so I should interview for that job” turned out to be the career move that offered me the means to move back to North Alabama.
Three years have passed and so much has happened in a very positive way. Two weeks ago, my daughter and her long-time fiancé were married and their three children were very much a part of their lovely wedding. Notice one more child has been added since I moved here so they are truly a blended modern family. One week ago, my daughter made me the proud parent of a college graduate when she walked at The University of Alabama Huntsville’s commencement. Her fiancé still has some course work to complete but we will be celebrating his achievement before we know it.
Once I relocated here, my son soon returned to the family fold as well and, after much thought and trying different things, has found his way to a new home and a new job in Colorado where he is developing into a confident and accomplished young man. So, I feel I have accomplished what most Mothers wish for their children, to nurture them and to challenge them to help them find their own paths. Their paths may not be the ones I would have chosen for them but knowing they eventually found their own sense of direction is very satisfying.
My work is not done, though, for this Mother’s Day, I have a new title to add to my existing list which includes, daughter, sister, Mother, grandmother, now I am a Mother-In-Law! I plan to work on being the best Mother-In-Law ever!
In closing, as women, we tend to take care of others and ignore our own needs which is not healthy over the long term. For this Mother’s Day, I ask women to consider their own needs both physical and emotional daily to help them remain healthy to continue the hard work of mothering for a long, long time. Strive for balance in all aspects of your life to reap the rewards of a life well lived. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
Live with intention, seek love and kindness in all aspects of your daily life. Others will benefit and learn to pay it forward, so says the grandmother who didn’t always walk that path.
Mother, Grandmother, Mother-In-Law