There is a tree across the street from my house. It is a very familiar sight for me. For years I’ve admired its beauty; how it has carried itself throughout each season with such dignity and poise. However, one morning it looked different to me. The immeasurable number of smaller branches stretched wide and mighty creating the familiar arch that would later present the brilliant leaves of spring. The tree had gotten so immense that I couldn’t help but wonder how it could hold itself up while maintaining this beautiful but heavy burden. My eyes then rested on the massive trunk. I marveled that this trunk produced the strength necessary to sustain such a large load. Suddenly I felt a strong connection to this tree. I no longer yearned for its beauty but sought its strength and maturity as it fulfilled the purpose of its creation.
Being nine months pregnant at the time I was facing the huge responsibility of motherhood. I often questioned my abilities to carry such a load. But as I pondered the maturity of the tree before me I could recall a time when it had not been so grand. It had always been beautiful but through experience, patience, and trials it had become strong and able. The perspective I have gained from this tree is nothing compared to what my mother, my sisters, and other women have taught me about being a mother.
The author William Thackeray once said, “Mother is the name for God on the lips and in the hearts of little children.” To determine what I’ve learned from my mom about being a mother would be near impossible. So much of who I am is because of her. My heart belongs with her. I am at my most vulnerable and joyous when she is near. Where she points I will go and I am grateful that she has always pointed toward God. Sometimes I look into my son’s eyes and feel a brief glimpse of my influence over him. I know he loves me and longs to hear my voice. I’ve realized that I must align myself securely on a path that is healthy both physically and spiritually for I know that he will follow.
However strong my mother’s influence, there have been others who will contribute to my role as a mother. Watching my sisters over the years with their kids has given me an understanding of basic physical and developmental needs of children. Observation has always served me well. As a child I recall watching my sisters changing diapers and feeding their children. Although the techniques have evolved over the years I remember discovering the feeling of love while caring for someone’s physical needs.
Another lesson in motherhood has been taught to me by my sister Michelle. My nieces and nephews love it when Michelle comes to town because they know they will get time and one-on-one attention while having a great time. I’ve been bowling with a two year old, hiking with an irritated teenager, and have been witness to many profound discussions over baking cookies. Michelle’s focus on the individual reminds me to take care of myself so I can enjoy each moment with my children.
My growth as a mother is greatly connected to the influence of my family, however, there have been many other women who will refine and strengthen my abilities as a mom. A quote from Sheri Dew states, “…all around us are those who need to be loved and led.” The influence of a mother is not limited to her own children. Neither is motherly influence restricted by age, situation, or marital status. Each of us has the opportunity to reach out. Being a new mom has been harder than I could ever imagine. I have truly been loved and led by so many women this past year. With empathy in their eyes I’ve been encouraged by women of all ages to “hang in there!” I’ve been given clothes, product recommendations, food, and words of wisdom. I’ve felt rallied around and supported. Truly, “the errand of angels is given to women; and this is a gift…”
Like the tree in my front yard, my branches are far reaching and will continue to grow strong and beautiful as long as my trunk is sturdy. My power and influence as a mother is greatly determined by those who have shown me how to strengthen my spirit. Through the example and love of many women in my life, I will be able to fulfill my duty as a mother for I know I will not be alone in my efforts.
In love and gratitude, I would like to say to all the women out there, “Happy Mother’s Day!” You are all incredibly loved and needed.
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