Walking our faith: The remarkable wisdom of mothers (column)
May 6, 2016
One year ago right before Christmas, Mom made a bold move.
We'd lived together for over 20 years after my father passed away. During that time, we'd worked overseas in Kiev, Ukraine; Baku, Azerbaijan; safaried on the Masai Mara in Kenya; and toured the pyramids of Egypt, before finally settling in a nice log home in Evergreen, Colorado.
Mom loved our house in Evergreen, watching the setting sun from her bedroom window or the chickadees that would nest in the birdhouse in a pine tree. She was an active volunteer at the local thrift store and made friends wherever she went.
But on an evening in late November, Mom announced that she was moving back to her condo in Florida.
“Mom” is such a weighted term that we forget that behind it is a beautiful woman doing her best. Some women have children and some do not. Some have adopted or fostered or acted as mentors to children in their communities. In one capacity or another, every woman exhibits the qualities of motherhood at some point in her life. I think of Mother Theresa, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, or women in our local community who have, as teachers or nurses or doctors, cared for children with the same tenderness as they would their own.
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"Suzie, I went from living with my mother, to living with my husband, to living with you. I always dreamed of living on my own, and I realize that this is my last chance."
At the age of 88, this was a bold move. But my mother has made courageous choices her entire life.
To be honest, this transition was more difficult for me than it was for Mom.
I'd assumed that we'd live together for the rest of our lives, at which point I would collapse into a puddle of helplessness.
But Mom knew what was best for both of us. Now, a year later I can fully appreciate how wise and generous my mother's decision was.
Mom has flourished in Florida, re-establishing ties with her church, her friends, and, yes, enjoying her independence.
Her move allowed me to come to Breckenridge and discover a place that I love and want to call home. My writing career has flourished and I'm re-establishing an identity and life apart from my mother.
It would have been easier for Mom to continue to live with me in Colorado. But her decision is an example of the complex wisdom and selfless choices that our mothers and wives make throughout their lives.
Mom and I speak on the phone every day. Our mother/daughter bond is as strong as ever, but I now see her as an individual.
So, consider this your Public Service Announcement. You can thank me on Sunday, when instead of waking up and groaning, "I forgot to call Mom!," you'll wake up with a plan in place to make Mom's day special.
What does Mother's Day have to do with a column about faith? Other than the admonition to "honor your mother and father?"
To place the importance of mothers in God's eyes, consider that this commandment is mentioned over 300 times in the Bible. Even God realized that we are often plagued by amnesia when it comes to remembering Mother's Day.
It's also of note that next to the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Ghost, it is Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who is revered for her open-hearted surrender to to God.
For mothers everywhere, Mary is a model of the strong woman who loves unconditionally and demonstrates her love for her children throughout her life. Consider this: the final instruction given by Jesus' as he was suffering on the cross, was telling his most beloved disciple: "behold your Mother."
I believe this is an instruction for the reverence which we should continue to give Mary, as well as the love and respect we should give our own mothers.
My mother never finished high-school because she went to work as a maid in a house down the street to help her widowed mother make ends meet. Yet, Adeline Anderson eventually went to Bible college, and then to work in Juneau, Alaska at a children's orphanage.
After she married my father and moved to Florida, she began working as a teacher. She soon realized that teaching children was her passion, went back to college and received another bachelor's, two master's, and a doctorate in education administration by going to university at night and on weekends, after working all week. This enabled her to not only have greater skills to serve children, but also to take on positions of greater responsibility, which provided our family with a higher income.
Yet, as a kid, I complained that she wasn't a traditional mother putting dinner on the table each night, or keeping a perfectly tidy home that was decorated to Martha Stewart standards for every holiday.
Earlier this week, I was talking to Mom about this article and she said that sometimes she wished she hadn't tried so hard to achieve so much, that she should have stayed home to take care of us.
I was shocked and saddened when I heard this.
My mother touched the lives of so many children, both in the U.S. and overseas, during her more than fifty years in education. Imagine all the lives that would have lost out on her love and knowledge.
For that matter, think of all the women who have built businesses either alone or with their husbands, written books, sold real estate, designed buildings, discovered breakthroughs in medicine, worked the night shift in a grocery store, or protected our community as a police officer. Each of these remarkable women pursued her personal dreams and cared for her family at the same time.
"Mom" is such a weighted term that we forget that behind it is a beautiful woman doing her best. Some women have children and some do not. Some have adopted or fostered or acted as mentors to children in their communities. In one capacity or another, every woman exhibits the qualities of motherhood at some point in her life. I think of Mother Theresa, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, or women in our local community who have, as teachers or nurses or doctors, cared for children with the same tenderness as they would their own.
I hope we will remember to honor all the women in our lives this Sunday.
If you're saying, "You don't understand, my mom was controlling." More than likely, what you thought of as pushy, your mother saw as her effort to encourage you to create a better life for yourself.
No matter what your age or hers, it's never too late to honor your mother with thanks. If your mother is no longer alive, send a prayer heavenward, and then appreciate the others in your life: Your wife, your sister, all the women who have made your life better as a result of their wisdom and caring.
In my life, Helen Weaver has been an anchor since I was an 11-year-old sassy little brat who swam with her four sons on our school's swim team. Over the forty years since, she has been a cherished friend and a cheerleader.
As adults we can appreciate how our mothers loved us in ways that never cost a dime, but were worth more than gold. My mother tells how her mother warmed bricks in the fireplace, wrapped them in flannel, and put them in her daughter's bed, so that Adeline would be warm when she climbed under the covers.
I'm sure your mother showed similar tenderness toward you. A mother's love is demonstrated in small acts every day.
On Mother's Day, let's express our love to our mothers, wives, and sisters. If you know a widow who will be alone because her family is far away, invite her out for lunch. Let's make a special effort to thank these wonderful women who have made our lives better.
Thank you, Mom. I could not have been blessed with anyone as wise and patient as you.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson writes a weekly faith column for the Summit Daily News. She lives in Breckenridge. You can find here at: facebook.com/SuzanneElizabeths or suzanneelizabeths.com
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