A New Perspective on Mother’s Day -Christian families 100+ Years Down the Road

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Something I’ve been thinking about off and on for a few months is the long-term effect of Christian families, really generations, throughout time.  The picture above is of my kids and I at a river where my Great Great Grandparents would let their children play.

My Great Grandfather played there as a child, as well as his daughter (my Grandmother), and cousins, etc., and now our kids, over 100+ years later on, are doing the same thing.

We recently took a short trip to their small town to look around and engage in some sentimental pondering of what we know of who they were, what their lives were like, and wonder if they ever could have imagined how important their faith was to someone as far removed from their day-to-day lives as their great-great grand-daughter?

I wonder if they realized when they were doing it, the legacy of faith they were building?

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Their house built in 1852

This coming weekend is Mother’s Day weekend, and again, like every year now, I’ve seen the regular online articles claiming how awful Mother’s Day is because women are expected to still change diapers… the regular old complaining and whining and such.  I’ve written posts to counter those articles before, but I thought I’d take a widely different approach this year.

What if we looked at Motherhood through the lens of something we’re building that is eternally glorious?  What if we really saw for the first time, how important our “invisible,” efforts are in the lives of our children and even future generations to come?

My Great great-Grandparents were in my opinion, remarkably wonderful and kind people.  They came to the US as immigrants, him being already a doctor and his wife, a happy and capable homemaker.  They had 12 children, and raised them with a fiercely strong, passionate Christian faith.  They were good parents, as two of their sons made overt gestures when adults to dedicate a Christian monument in the town  (a giant crucifix to their, “loving parents,”) and to write a long, 20 page document detailing their parents’ characters and lives.  They were clearly people who their children liked, looked up to, and respected as fellow Christians.

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After my Great great grandfather died, my GG-grandmother turned their house into an inn.  We’ve read that artists and writers stayed there, and she lived out her last days very happily.

These were just not ordinary people… their Christian faith and the way they devoted their lives to living it out in their community, and with their children, inspires me to take our own efforts in how we raise our kids that much more seriously.  To know that their faith was a critical building block to who I am today, prompts me to pray for my own children’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and so on.  To pray continual blessings over them.  To pray hedges of protection around their lives.  To pray that they will be able to withstand life’s hardships and trials or testings, and still pass on the faith that was birthed in our family probably 100’s of years ago (we’re not sure when… we’d probably have to look for genealogy records in their old country).

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Their great-great-great grandchildren visiting their church!

Going back to see in person their house, their old church, to walk where they walked and see what they saw, it gives real meaning and understanding to all the verses where God promises that He will be faithful through generations of believers.  I always thought that only meant God is the same, from generation to generation, and I’m sure that is still what it means.  But I wonder if He also may have been reminding us that His promises and faithfulness proves true through literal familial generation to generation.

“And His mercy is for those who fear Him,

from generation to generation.”

Luke 1:50

I felt a strange sadness knowing that we didn’t get to, “know,” these relatives beyond what their children wrote about them (and how sweet that their children actually did!!!).  And just an overwhelming longing for the wisdom that my great-great Grandmother would have given me about parenting her 12 children – a feat she did successfully, or her advice on supporting one’s husband, or on building up a community that is 98% full of Christians making the town and surrounding areas better.  Thinking of her and her husband made me look at my husband and long to have 12 children with him like she managed, because he’s such a good and godly man, and our children already love him so much!

It’s sad how much wisdom from past ages is, “lost,” with time when it isn’t written down and preserved.  This is why I’m working together with  my own mother (who is their great-grand-daughter) on leaving a book for my own daughter and future female descendants, that will include much of the wisdom she passed down to me, which I felt was crucial to how I now live my life as a wife and mother.  It may end up not being appreciated, but I feel like to not even try to deliver this information to future generations would be wrong!

After all, God does tell us we should care about the future generations of Christians,

So even to old age and gray hair, O God,

do not forsake me, until I proclaim Your Might to another generation,

Your Power to all those to come.”

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“We will not hide them from their children,

but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord,

and His might, and the wonders that He has done.”

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Let this be recorded for a generation to come,

so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord

Psalm 71:18, Psalm 78:4, Psalm 102:18
***

But what if you didn’t have a mother who took her role seriously?  What if you had a mother who always complained, or made life in  your house generally miserable?

My grandmother (my mom’s mom) came from this wonderful, godly lineage, but she didn’t choose this path to be a joyful, happy mother.  Yes, she had great difficulties in life, but they are no excuse for how she chose to be chronically unhappy, complaining, and verbally abusive to her children and her husband.  She’s now left a legacy of warning, an example of what NOT to emulate, that my mom passed down to me (having grown up herself in a house with a mother like that).  So I very much understand from a personal viewpoint, how this kind of mother, even if she does have reason to be upset or complaining or whining all the time (chronically unhappy), she still should make it priority number one to NOT allow herself to act on those feelings.  Acting on those feelings are tantamount to ruining her legacy, and harming her husband and children.

Even though my grandmother came from this very same family, she didn’t truly have a relationship with God until she was on her death bed when she finally accepted Christ as her savior, that’s how stubborn and bitter she was about life.  She literally lived almost an entire life wasted, and never had a good relationship with her daughter (my mom).

Even if I’m the only voice saying this out there (I’m sure I’m not, thankfully), I’m going to say it:

Don’t allow momentary afflictions to destroy

what you’re trying to build

that may last for centuries,

because YOU chose to be an unjoyful, unhappy mother.

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It’s true what us mothers are building is hard work.  We’re supposed to be helping children grow into adults who honor God with their entire life and being, in a world that wants very much to destroy everything Christianity stands for.

It’s true that our work goes largely unnoticed, in the crevices of unseen life.  I have to admit, raising children is sometimes heart-breaking work as you feel they constantly don’t, “appreciate,” you as their mother.  But the fact that it can last for generations, or that one woman can turn it back around like my mother did to redeem a family’s lost legacy, brings hope.

The Invisible Woman by Nicole Johnson –

“It started to happen gradually. I would walk into a room and say something and no one would notice. I would say, “Turn the TV down, please.” And nothing would happen. So I would get louder, “TURN THE TV DOWN PLEASE!” Finally, I would have to go over and turn the TV down myself.

And then I started to notice it elsewhere. My husband and I had been at a party for about three hours and I was ready to go. I looked over and he was talking to a friend from work and I walked over and…he kept right on talking. He didn’t even turn toward me.

That’s when I started to put it together…. He can’t see me! I’m invisible!

I’m Invisible!

Then I started to notice it more and more. I would walk my son to school and his teacher would say, “Jake, who’s that with you?” And my son would say, “Nobody.” Granted, he’s just five…but NOBODY?

One night a group of us gathered and we were celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just taken this fabulous trip and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed and I was sitting there looking around at the other women at the table. I’d put my makeup on in the car on the way there, I had on an old dress because it the only thing clean, and I had my unwashed hair pulled up in a banana clip and I was feeling pretty darn pathetic. And then Janice turned to me and she said, “I brought you this.”   It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. And then I read her inscription: “With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”

You can’t name the names of the people who built the great cathedrals. Over and over again, looking at these mammoth works, you scan down to find the names and it says builder unknown. They completed things not knowing that anyone would notice. There’s a story about one of the builders who was carving a tiny bird inside a beam that would be covered over by a roof. And someone came up to him and said, “Why are you spending so much time on something no one will ever see?”

It’s reported that the builder replied, “Because God sees.”  They trusted that God saw everything.

They gave their whole lives for a work, a mammoth work, they would never see finished. They showed up day after day. Some of these cathedrals took over a 100 years to build. That was more than one working man’s lifetime. Day after day. And they made personal sacrifices for no credit. Showing up at a job they would never see finished for a building their name would never be on.

One writer even goes so far as to say, “No great cathedrals will ever be built again because so few people are willing to sacrifice to that degree.”  I closed the book and it was as if I heard God say, “I see you. You are not invisible to me. No sacrifice is too small for me to notice. I see every cupcake baked, every sequin sewn on and I smile over every one. I see every tear of disappointment when things don’t go the way you want them to go. But remember, you are building a great cathedral. It will not be finished in your lifetime. And sadly, you will never get to live there. But if you build it well, I will.”

At times, my invisibility has felt like an affliction to me, but it not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my own pride.

It’s okay that they don’t see. It’s okay that they don’t know.

I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college, “You’re not going to believe what my mom does. She gets up at four in the morning and she bakes pies and hand bastes the turkey and she presses all the linens.” Even if I do all those things, I don’t want him to say that. I want him to want to come home. And secondly, I want him to say to his friend, “You’re gonna love it there.”  It’s okay that they don’t see. We don’t work for them. We work for Him. We sacrifice for Him. They will never see. Not if we do it right, not if we do it well.   Let’s pray that our work will stand as a monument to an even Greater God.

❤️

Pricing Mother’s Day

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Every year… it never fails 😉 … we on social media are bombarded with new posts or youtube videos, written by mothers (or their strangely apologetic husbands) moaning and groaning about how horrible being a mom is for them and that it “sucks” that they only get ONE day as a “break” and then proceed to complain that even that ONE day isn’t actually a “break.”  They usually use words like “shitty” of course, though, lol.

Apparently, if you’re a Mom/Grandma/Aunt/etc, Mother’s Day has turned into a week-long, self-indulgent, victimhood-mode of “poor me” attitude for you to indulge in without censorship.  In fact, even bringing up the point that all these posts of moms complaining about how much they hate Mother’s Day (and every other day of the year) because they have to spend it with their kids, isn’t good for them or their kids – if you dare bring this up on social media, you’re labeled judgmental and not Christian or loving like Christ did.

Motherhood is hard.

I totally get many of us moms that were raised in this culture, where we grew up given trophies for just being there (and awesome? LOL), that motherhood feels like too much to handle.  There’s no one else there to “save us” from the sick days, or when our husbands are away on business trips, or when they’re deployed, or working late… and my generation (Gen Y) in particular, aren’t very good at showing grit and the desire to push through difficulties like you’re running an excruciating marathon.

Most of us were just never taught how to have grit or persevere through things we’d really rather not be doing.  We live in a fairly easy, maybe too-accessible culture where everything is either fast and quick for us, or already available.  In my opinion, our culture has created a bunch of weak women.  We’re going to be remembered as the women who every year, took to social media to complain and whine about the very blessings (children!) we said we craved.  

It’s incredibly ironic that in this age of feminism where women are supposed to be stronger than ever, they complain and whine (showing extreme weakness) more than I believe they ever did under a patriarchal “oppressive” society.  Is that what it means to be a strong woman now?  Someone who thinks “Mother’s Day” is her enemy?

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I think I’m lucky that my mother frequently reminded us that most of life was just doing the boring, hard things that needed to be done.  It wasn’t supposed to be easy.  Raising kids isn’t supposed to be easy.  But that’s not really the point.

The point is that even if you think motherhood really really stinks, you should realize that your kids don’t deserve a mom who always feels that way, or allows herself to fall into “victim-mode.” 

Because it’s going to affect them negatively, it just will. 

What are we teaching our kids when we show them that just being their mom really really sucks? 

Are we helping them to become better humans who suck it up and build a beautiful, and very necessarily difficult, but so needed, civilized structure for this country? 

Do we want a massive generation of more people who don’t believe in hard work, who love to complain as loudly as they can, and in any opportunity that they can, to claim their status of victimhood? 

If you’ve felt this way before about Mother’s Day, I do understand that it’s hard.  Dealing with toddlers who scream and throw things at you, hit you and are completely unreasonable… day in and day out… is VERY hard, and yes, sometimes it really really stinks!  But you have to push through those feelings, because they only last a moment when that toddler is being hard. 

And then 3 minutes later, they want a hug and are sweet and adorable again.

You don’t have to “give in” to feeling like the victim to your own life or like your children are “oppressive.”

Anything worthwhile in life is supposed to be difficult.

It’s supposed to be painful.  Because anytime you sacrifice anything in your life, it is going to be a bit painful.  Motherhood is full of those unmeasurable sacrifices – but you have to try to find the beauty in them, and throw off the feelings of resentment or that you’re being “oppressed” by your children.

Compare it to running and getting your body in shape.  If you listened to your feelings, you’d tell yourself constantly that you “hate exercising” and that “it sucks” and then you’d never feel properly motivated to do it.  It’s the same with parenting.  It’s supposed to be hard.  It’s supposed to have moments of painful sacrifice.  And no, you’re not supposed to just whine and complain on social media (to complete strangers) about how much you can’t stand God’s blessings in your life – because it’s not good for you.

Please… try… just one year 😀  TRY to enjoy this mother’s Day without making a whining post or reminding your husband that you “should” get paid $100,000+ for all your “sacrifices.”

Honestly… if you really understood what that word sacrifice means, then you’d understand WHY you don’t get paid money to be a mom.

Stephanie

 

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Motherhood & Childbirth

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Mother’s Day has come and gone again, and for some reason each year I just feel more and more content and happy with our life that we’re building.  I’m not sure exactly why I feel more content and happy with each year, but it may have a lot to do with the growing sense of gratitude of living this life getting to watch our children grow, love my amazing husband, and maybe just getting a little bit more mature.

I still have sin!  Definitely have to work on things at times, but in this area of mothering, even when it’s really especially hard with lots of tantrums or just stubborn behavior and lots to do, I can still see the end result in mind, especially at the end of the day (happy adults that know they were truly loved – no, adored!) and it somehow gets me through those tantrums.

Motherhood is hard at times.  Life in general has so many unexpected things come up and little struggles or trials, to me, mothering my kids just falls in line with normal everyday things to face.  There are many ups and downs with small children when they’re teething or in a tantrum phase, but I think it’s harder if you don’t really understand the fact that it is going to be hard to begin with.

There’s a new disturbing trend of moms on social media complaining about Mother’s Day, using it as an excuse to say how unfair it is that even on that day where they’re supposed to be honored, they still have to take care of their children (wipe noses or change diapers), or clean sometimes.  From reading several of these kinds of posts and videos for 2 years (posted the week before to prep women to feel jipped), it’s clear these moms don’t understand that life is just hard.  Mother’s Day doesn’t always go perfectly or smoothly, especially with small children – and it comes across as insanely immature of an adult woman who doesn’t understand this reality.  Or one who understands it, but still acts like it’s not fair and has an online virtual pity party about the duties of being a mom.

From one of my favorite books that my parents had loved when I was growing up (and got me reading before I was a teenager:

“Life is difficult.

This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.  It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it.  Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult.  Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult.  Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy.

They voice their belief, noisily or subtly, that their difficulties represent a unique kind of affliction that should not be and that has somehow been especially visited upon them….  I know about this moaning because I have done my fair share.

Life is a series of problems.  Do we want to moan about them or solve them?  Do we want to teach our children to solve them?”

                  -The Road Less Traveled

So back to motherhood… yes, it’s hard, but it’s also so beautiful and I think, really grows us as women to have to go through the struggles of mothering.  Anything hard generally (in my opinion) helps us to grow and mature.  At least it can, if we accept the struggle and go through it trying to learn from it and become better.  Unfortunately, as The Road Less Traveled points out, many people don’t allow problems and trials in their life to grow and mature them.  It’s easier to complain and have self-pity for our own struggles.

I love this quote from the 1800’s by Anne Pratt about the virtue of seeing life optimistically as a wife and mother:

“Every one must have remarked how pleasant is that household in which a cheerful spirit of energy is cultivated by the mistress and mother.

It is a pleasant thing to dwell with one who is not troubled by trifling annoyances,

who is skilled in looking at the bright side of things, and hoping for the best;

with one who believes that all the ways of the Lord are right,

and who attaches a deep importance to duty.

Such a one will work willingly, in the belief that God has appointed both her lot and her duties,

and it is surprising how many obstacles are met and overcome by such a spirit.”

~ Anne Pratt

In my life, it IS surprising how many obstacles we’ve overcome together, my husband and I, due to having such a spirit of adventure, optimism and gratitude.  In really hard times, it’d be easier to complain or fight or even blame each other, but instead we work together as a team to solve the problem and learn from it.  It really makes all the difference!

CHILDBIRTH

This is just an update on the pregnancy, but since it’s a “motherhood” post, I thought I’d squeeze it in here.

So because our first child was an emergency c-section, and afterwards we decided to not try a V-BAC, this will be my 3rd c-section.  We’re so lucky these days, even to be able to have c-sections!  I recently heard that death during childbirth affected 65% of women during the 19th century.  Obviously the risk is far less for us now, but still, having had repeated c-sections, medically we know each time the risk increases.  Then there’s always uterine rupture or tears where the scar has been cut and re-cut – these also increase with repeated pregnancies unfortunately.

Last time around I remember trying to prepare Patrick for if I was to die in childbirth during the c-section – I know it’s a slight chance, but you never know what’s going to happen and since there was that possibility, why not mentally prepare for it?  I wanted him to know that I wanted him to be happy and to remarry.  It’s been the same this time, except I’ve been having very strong pains where the old c-section scars are, which my doctor thinks is scar tissue stretching (little tears), and probably not “windows” which are where the uterus is so thin that you’re actually able to see things like the baby’s hair.  Windows are supposed to be painless, so the pain I feel at times is probably just stretching (hopefully!).  The risk of uterine rupture is still there though, even though it’s still likely very small.

Anyway, we really want at least to be able to have one more child after this, but unfortunately it depends on the state of my uterus – sometimes they can apparently become “paper thin,” or if they see windows when they open me up, or little tears, etc.  They’ll likely then advise me that I shouldn’t attempt another pregnancy.  😥  We’ll see, many women are able to have up to 5 or 6 c-sections… but it all depends on that particular woman’s genetics and her unique uterus thickness, strength, and elasticity.

Again, we’ll see.

 

Mother’s Day Reflections

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To my boys…. Sitting here, alone in the dark as I type this and reflect on this Sunday being Mother’s Day, I’m overwhelmed with joy at being your mother.  Both of you boys, both of you, are so wonderful, and give me so much joy.  I watch you both sleep, so peacefully in your beds, and I’m amazed and so humbled that God has given you both to me.  It brings tears to my eyes to know how much God has entrusted me with, and I don’t want to fail you.  I want to be the best mother I can possibly be, and I am sorry for all the times I fall short.  I promise to always admit my mistakes, to let you know that I’m human, too, and to treat you both with fairness.  You are both my treasures, and I want you to feel it in the way I interact with you everyday.

To my mother, thank you… we may not have always agreed in the past, but you were and still are, an amazing woman.  I find myself thinking about the things you said when I was a child in your house all the time since I left 8 years ago.  You single-handedly planted so many words of wisdom, so many biblical truths that I still cling to in my heart where they took root, and have blossomed into a garden of wisdom that has guided me so well in these past years.  You planted those seeds, you nurtured them when they were tender young shoots, and watered them for years – never giving up on me, even when I was rebellious and pushed you past your limits, you still loved me and always fought for the best for me.

You helped me become the woman God is making me to be, the mother I want to be to your grandchildren.  You were able to admit your mistakes, you were always ALWAYS so honest with me about every question I had concerning life.  And I am SO GRATEFUL to you.  We still don’t always see eye to eye, but I am so much more in love with you than I’ve ever been, and the love just keeps growing for you.  You did so well, Mom, and I am so proud that I can call you my mom.  Thank you for setting such a wonderful, godly model, even in your imperfections, you were able to teach me humility and wisdom in knowing that I will never be the perfect mother.

To my husband, thank you!!!  Thank you for making me your wife, and giving me these children to raise!!!  You have given me so much joy in being your wife, in getting to support you emotionally and be there for you physically, I absolutely love being your wife, and try to never take it for granted.  You bring me so much happiness everyday with your carefree atttitude, and addictive, teasing playfulness.  You bring happiness to our boys as they simply adore you!

I’m so honored to have had your children.  You were there with me the day an Ob-GYN told me I would likely never be able to have children.  The shock of hearing those words at the young age of 22 was jarring.  But she was wrong.  So very wrong.  God’s blessed us with 2 healthy, beautiful boys – thank you for being the kind of man I want them to grow up and become.  You are already teaching our oldest so many things about being a man, about true masculinity, you set such a great example for him to walk in your footsteps.

Thank you for your sacrifice, for providing so well for us that I am able to stay at home with them for this short time….  Because of you, I’m able to see every smile of our babies’, every milestone they hit, capture it on camera or video for you, and really enjoy this time with them before they go to school.  So thank you, again, so much, for this gift of being the mother of your children.

It really is, such a happy, happy Mother’s Day. ❤

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court..”

Psalm 127:3-5