Mom's Eye View
I’ve never liked the winter, even when it sparkles with glittery snowscapes and smells of crisp cedar smoke. I know lots of people love the brisk days of sledding and ice skating, of venturing outside all bundled up then coming in rosy-cheeked hours later to a steamy cup of hot chocolate and a crackling fire. But to me, winter has always been a dull time of gray monotony and emptiness.
My dislike for cold weather was at its worst when my three children were very young; the winter months just seemed to drag on forever. The days were too cold and wet for the kids to be outside for long, and the nights were long and dreary with all the ‘indoor activities’ becoming tiresome and boring. It was on one such day — an icy morning in late January — that I took my gang, all under age 5, to visit my mother who was then living in a nursing home after a stroke left her in need of round-the-clock medical care. I knew a visit with Gramma would do us all good, although as I tucked and zipped and ‘winterized’ my kids to venture out, I had no inkling of the lasting warmth that awaited me in her wisdom.
The children were noisy and rambunctious from the start, and Gramma smiled as I tried to corral them in her little room. We were barely through the door when Charlie, then 2, knocked a cup off Gramma’s table, spilling water all over the floor. His 3 year-old sister Abby responded by stomping in the puddle, splashing the edge of Gramma’s bedspread. And Roman, the oldest at 4½, ‘helped’ by taking it upon himself to scream at them until his face turned cherry red, “STOP IT, YOU TWO! How many times do I have to tell you to BEHAVE?! Do I need to call DAD to tell him how bad you’re acting?!”
My mother watched this little drama unfold, smiling a bit at what were surely memories of her own maternal misadventures.
“You should know!” I replied. Like me, my mother had three kids in as many years and knew firsthand how difficult handling a trio of toddlers could be. Of course, she did it in the days before DVD players or 24-hour cartoon channels, before restaurants with ‘play lands’ and ‘kid-friendly’ supermarkets. In fact, my mother didn’t even have a driver’s license when the three of us were little, and so she very rarely got a break from being our teacher, nurse, cook, referee, clean-up crew and entertainment system.
“How did you do it, Mom?” I asked her, exasperated and hoping to learn some secret coping technique that might help me deal with my own motherly challenges. “How did you keep from going crazy when we were this age?”
My mother paused and looked from me to each of my children, then back again. At last she said, “It was hard, for sure, and I was exhausted most of the time. But when I think back on those days — as hectic and demanding as they were — I realize something…”
She paused again and let her gaze drift to the gray world outside her window. I was about to ask her to continue when she spoke again, this time so softly that I had to strain to hear her over the sound of three spastic preschoolers.
“In many ways, my worst day then was better than my best day now, here in a place where no one really needs me.”
Something melted inside me that cold January day, and from that moment, I saw the trials of motherhood in a new light. Sure, I still bristle at the noisy outbursts and random messes, but I remind myself that God blesses us in every season of our lives and it’s up to us to recognize and savor those blessings —even when they come in disguise. The days of springtime are fleeting, summer is sweet but not without end, and even in the radiant dazzle of autumn, winter is on its way.
|Copyright 2012 Miles Jesu. All rights reserved.|