"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

how do i make you feel; random mothers day thoughts on the tuesday after

I'm gonna rewind for a second to Valentine's day like I promised ages ago.

Putting away the makings of the lunchtime pb&j, my phone buzzed over on the counter. I paused a second to glance and froze at a text saying that a dear friend and leader from our ward at church was trapped in an avalanche in the mountains.

My head swam. I made a few phone calls, one to Newel as well and we all held our breath and waited for the updates.

The late afternoon was torture as our friend was discovered buried alive far too late to be saved.

I jumped in my car and flew to his house where I knew his son would be coming home from school and his wife would soon be returning from her harrowing wait with rescue teams at the mountain trail head.

She entered and together we crumbled for a brief moment before shock kicked in and she meandered around tidying and straightening and generally pacing in a glazed state. I busied myself with dishes, not really knowing what to say or do.

In her shuffling, she moved toward a humidifier sitting front and center on her kitchen table and stood staring for the longest time.

"This morning as he left, he asked if I'd go get him a humidifier. I ran into Walmart to get a humidifier after I picked up our Valentine's dinner at the grocery store. Is the last thing we talked about really this stupid humidifier??"

My heart broke as I cleared away the halfway constructed and hastily abandoned Valentine's dinner.

In the weeks that followed, thoughts of what parting words I left with those I love weighed heavily on me. I felt glaringly aware of so many senseless things pulling at my time and attention. I let my Facebook friends know that I'd be letting them go. I shut my phone off and left it on the counter more, in fear I'd miss a last moment and regret it's finality. I put the blog on the shelf to live it, rather than always wonder if I had.

And then I had to get a grip.

Some things were said in various church meetings centered around the idea that those around us can feel the true love of Christ by what they feel when they are in the presence of those who act in his name.

I thought about my friend and the loss of her husband.

Her every action made him feel loved and valued and cared about even down to a humidifier. Though thought of as a regretted last conversation, it was really a final confirmation of devoted service with a willing and eager heart.

I waste a lot of energy .. and I mean a lot ;) ... on trying to be more ... be more patient, be more attentive, be more kind, be more tolerant, be slower to anger, be less tired, be more interested, be more concerned, be more empathetic ... 

That list goes on and on. I've got personal journals loaded with lists of more quality and virtue I'd like to achieve.

But maybe, those things will come if I as the mother of this family (and the wife, and the sister, and the daughter, and the friend, and the leader at church, and the stranger in the grocery line) just concentrate on how I make you feel.

And everything else will follow.

Even in the simple acts of sweeping floors and driving carpools.

Three months have passed since that really hard Valentine's day.

I'll admit, on Mother's Day Sunday, I wasn't feeling super great inside.

Prom fell on Saturday night which led to really cranky-sleep-deprived teenagers whose greatest wish was to disappear into beds until Monday.  My family picture request was met with eye rolls. There were tears over project and test wrap-ups as we head into the final week of school.  My call to my own mother was blocked by eight other siblings vying for her time. I grumped internally that I was certain I'd failed and was rearing a group of ingrates who would one day plop down on mother-in-law couches and wait to be served. And one individual just rankled because of my weeks-long ignored plea to go get a haircut ;)

I'd lost sight of my previous resolve to influence the feeling between those around me and I let that cantankerous feeling spread on what should have been a pretty special day.

(pictured: mother's day greeters whose efforts I truly did adore. Don't they look thrilled?)

My mom sent out a really beautiful article to the women of our family. I finally got to read it in the silence Monday. You can read it HERE.

Basically, it is a letter entitled "A love letter from yesterday's moms to the mother's of today".  It outlines all that mother's today are doing.

I kind of snort laughed at some of those things because I pretty much tread water a lot of the time.

Then it turned to some careful observances and cautions which I loved, this being the primary of which:

"Keep showing your kids how to enjoy and love life, even during the hard times. Assume the best in people and intentions. Pick your battles and let the little and unimportant things go. Be who you hope your children will become; they are always watching and want to be just like you."

My phone call finally reached my own mother on Monday and we engaged in a lengthy and much needed conversation.

I told her how I felt like a failure because I'd never intended it but sure enough, I'd become a Harpie. Most especially with school wrapping up and so many milestones for a senior boy headed out of my nest. None of it was ending the way I'd hoped.

True to her amazing nature, she blew life into my sails with her praise of all that she sees from her perspective. I so love her for that. 

She made me feel like everything would be okay.

And she made me feel like I was pretty okay in the doing of it.

I was reminded by her gentle example that becoming all that I'd like to see, lies within myself by remembering how I make them feel just as she has always made me feel like I can do anything.  

And that relationships are important.

And that fretting over some things might just be better served by encouragement and love and maybe just a little more praying my guts out as well ;)

So here we are at the Tuesday after Mother's day with hopes for "more" of a different nature. Just as my friend showed with her humidifier that acting in love and building an atmosphere of peaceful dedication might speak greater words than those we utter, I'm recreating that feeling just a little more intentionally.

I'm grateful to be their mother.

How I hope those I love can feel that.


  1. It's always such a work in progress, isn't it. I think frequently about how young-mother-me was so sure I was having these children to shape and mold them, but old-tireder-mother-me has come to the place of believing that they are really shaping me, over and over for the last 29 years. And my heart breaks for your friend.

    1. I love that thought, Cindy! They certainly are the making of us aren't they?!