Tag Archives: mother’s day

Hand in Hand

Mother's Day

My wife has long claimed that she lacked the natural maternal instinct other girls seemed to have as she was growing up in Arkansas. I am in no position to question her inner feelings, but I sure can note the irony. Through her incredible life as a mother, I met a phenomenal little girl who changed my life forever. And just over a year after our marriage, Jody accepted the challenge to stand in the place of mother for many teenagers with unfair early challenges in life and spent the next three years (and beyond) loving those sweet people with ferocity and grace. While there she gave birth to our youngest daughter and glided through her days seemingly able to mother the whole world.

Truth be told, she confessed one afternoon that she really couldn’t mother the whole world, which launched our life together on a trajectory where instead of mothering the whole world, I have had a courtside seat to watch her love lucky kids all over the world. I watched her teach and love on children in Mississippi. I watched her informally adopt children in California and teach them how to bake cookies and homemade biscuits and the yummiest communion bread. She is sneaky with her gift-giving talent, but I have caught her enough to know that she regularly gives thoughtful and secret gifts so that children know that they are special and that she loves them. I have watched her become Mama Jody to children in Kenya and am especially moved when she gravitates to the young girls there who are also young mothers. And for someone who lacks that maternal instinct, you don’t want to get between her and a brand new baby to hold.

And the relationship she has now with our adult daughters? Wow. It is a thing of beauty.

I am fully aware that mothering is more than biology, so maybe instinct is not that important after all. Maybe motherhood is more of a posture one adopts.

Some know that Jody and I met on New Year’s Day and married that Memorial Day weekend, and those who don’t know the story might guess that our meeting was instant love. However, many don’t know about our second meeting. I tracked down Jody’s phone number but was afraid to call and actually prayed to God as I went to sleep one night that I would bump into her the next morning when I arrived at work and she dropped Erica off at school. Well, my prayer seemed a bit suspect the next morning when I slept through my alarm and made it to work just as the school bell was ringing. Later that morning, however, I turned to walk down the main hall and was stunned to see a beautiful picture at the far end—Jody and Erica walking hand in hand my direction. We stopped and talked and arranged our first real date, and we are still dating twenty-five years later.

But on Mother’s Day this year I am reminded of that early scene down that long hallway. Of Jody walking alongside her sweet girl hand in hand. The motherly posture. Today that hand-in-hand might happen across the miles via text message or phone call, but she continues to walk by our daughters (and others) day after day after day. What an honor it is simply to watch.

Real Love

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I am almost certain that Mother’s Day was not created for my personal enjoyment, but I have to say that it was pretty lonely this time around.  It marked the fourth Mother’s Day since my mother’s passing, and this year my wife was in Arkansas for a high school graduation so even that was limited to a text message celebration.

Of all my mom’s wonderful characteristics, that she was always there for me ranks near the top, which makes her absence more pronounced.  I know that I have tons of people still there for me, including an amazing wife, beautiful daughters, and a bevy of family and friends, but no one, biologically speaking, has “been there” like your mother.  It is a special, indescribable bond.

Pardon my boasting, but mine was the very best.  You can arm wrestle over second place, which is still a pretty great accomplishment given the billions of mothers in world history, but the gold medal stand is already occupied.

One story that describes my mom:  I moved my little family five-hundred miles away from my widowed mother in 1999, which she handled well.  Not long after our move, a job opportunity emerged in my hometown (near mom), and I submitted an application.  The organization decided to interview two final candidates, including me, but after deep reflection, I decided to pull out prior to the interview.  My mom was so happy.

That last line is neither a typo nor sarcasm—it is truth.  Even though my mom missed us very much (well, honestly, probably the grandkiddos most of all), she felt that I would not be happy in the potential job, and she would rather I be far away and happy than nearby and not.

That is how I define real love.  The happiness of the object of your love > personal happiness.

Mother’s Day may have been a bit lonely this year, but it remains very, very special.