I've been reflecty lately. Whether it's approaching Easter, my own mother's recent 60th birthday or just the truth that our lives have been feeling a bit wild as of late.
Thursday evening we headed to church for a special service and as we sang the song about Jesus being the rose trampled on the ground and giving it all for us I heard only my own mother's voice. Her sound and strong and unmistakable singing voice. My mother, you see, is quite the singer. Like the solos at church kinda singer. Like the kind of person that sits on the pew behind you and you can't help but turn around and check 'em out because they are belting it out and hitting the notes for real. (This gift is not genetic. Just ask anyone in the backseat of my car when Florence and the Machine comes on.)
My mother's faith is perhaps what stands out most when I think of our lives and our childhood. (That and her ability to iron a dress — while you're still wearing it.) I remember after her mother died (my beloved Grandma Wanda who has a near cult like status among those who knew her) my mom said she could scarcely read her own Bible without tears — so connected was Grandma Wanda to faith. And I hope my mother knows the same is true of her.
I look at myself. I look at Wilder. I wonder what will be the things he remembers of me? Of my own mother and grandmother I think of warmth and love, good cooking, laughter, perfect lipstick, high standards and, above all, faith. Faith that God's got this. Faith that we are His children and following where He leads is the absolute priority.
What do I look like to Wilder? On most days likely busy and flustered and on some days impatient. Does he see in me forgiveness and honesty? Virtue above self? Sacrifice? Love that is true and inconvenient and messy and hard? Does he see an authentic and imperfect woman trying every day to be a bit better than the day before? I don't know. And I don't know if I think about it enough. I have a solitary job on many days. I plan and I write and I work from home often, which means it's just me in all my uncensored glory — plus two little blue eyes that see everything.
He sees me rolling my eyes and probably gritting my teeth when I don't get my way. He sees the truth. It may seem a bit early to muse about these things. But, this is when it starts. This is real life. It starts now. I can't wait until next year to be a better person.
When we celebrated my mom's birthday last week I wrote a piece for her, the majority of which was an excerpt from Proverbs 31 about the sort of woman I consider her to be. The morning of her party I woke with a conviction that what I had written wasn't fitting for the party and I wrote something else. Frankly, the first piece sounded a bit too close to a eulogy for a birthday celebration.
But, really we are all writing our own eulogies every day. We are living life and leaving behind a legacy. We don't pick when we leave. We don't pick when our children watch us. It's hard to hide from these suckers.
We live in a vastly different world than our mother's and our grandmother's. The gray areas keep getting bigger and bigger. What it means to be a good woman and good mom feels like it's changed in some ways. We live in a world that celebrates "keeping it real" and we probably know far too many intimate details about people that (let's be real) were it not for Facebook we might strike up a convo with at the ten year reunion. Now I know their kid made the honor roll and they know I take too many pix of my kid and love ChickFilA waffle fries. Life has gotten weird.
When we talk about moms that 'have it all' don't we picture that girl you know with the super cute jeans (that still look awesome on her eternally perky booty even after three kids) and that glossy hair and the baby on her hip that you wonder if she's just babysitting because where are the bags under her eyes? But, when we really think in earnest about what it means to be the best kind of mom and the best kind of woman, what standards do we use? Reading over Proverbs 31 again as we prepared for mom's birthday was a reminder that the standards are there for just what kind female I must strive to be.
That Proverbs 31 gal was getting up early and working hard and providing for her family in every way she could. She was supporting her husband and loving her kids. And she was faithful. And that's what it's all about. Being faithful. Embracing your own gifts and never comparing yourself to another mom or woman. We spend a lot of time either beating ourselves up for being less or belittling moms for being more.
We're disappointed that we didn't nail that Pinterest project and that our crisper is full of conventional fruit and that our hair is really not glossy (like at all) and that our booty is the antonym for perky. (Oh, that's just me? Carry on, fearless confident mommas with fab booties.) And then a minute later we don't care at all because who has time for all that? We got peanut butter to wipe off our faces and desitin under our nails and that's just fine. Or maybe we aren't thinking about anything other than how much caffeine one person can consume in a day before their heart explodes.
I can make a million and one excuses for why I'm not better. But, the truth is that I think if we wake up, pray and then listen to God and try we have succeeded. There is no measuring stick for this. Yet, on our 60th surprise birthday party will we be the one surrounded by our daughters with tears in their eyes who think "I wish we could do this for you every year?" Who read Proverbs 31 and think "check, check, check?" It's not about being judged. It's the opposite of that. Kids know you're trying. I think they do. I always did.
If you know my mom you know we arrived to church ten minutes late, on two wheels before the sliding door to her minivan flew open and a cloud of perfume and hairspray and chattering girls fell out. She worked full time and she never was the Martha Stewart mom. She had moments of impatience. She was real. She was authentic. She was love. She is love. She was and is faithful.
So, as we celebrate Easter in just a few days I'm feeling reflecty and hopeful and hopefully faithful. I am believing that no matter what God's got this. Instead of looking at anyone else, it's time to look inside. To look at where my time and my money and my effort are spent and how closely that lines up with Proverbs 31. To see myself as Wilder sees me — unfiltered.