She Was There

Looking at my life, I am often surprised. While I always dreamed of being a mother, I never imagined that one of my crowing achievements would include successfully taking apart a Dyson vacuum to clean the trail of sugar, cocoa powder, oil, and pair of underwear that coated the inside. I imagined story time and hugs and baking cakes with my children–not the frustration and weariness that consumed me after seeing the ‘cake’ that my daughters mixed on the dining room carpet.

There are days when I look around and think this life is ridiculous. Feeling overwhelmed by the chores that I never finish, the worry that I’m not discipling my children well, the constant fatigue–there have been times when I’ve whispered “why do I bother?”

With all the frustration that comes, I’ve questioned why I chose this path. Why didn’t I go back to work sooner? I could say it’s the hugs that keep me here or the sweet smiles, but, in reality, I know those joys are not unique to stay-at-home moms. Many moms work and come home to giant kisses; they spend the hours when they want to rest playing tea party or wrestling on the floor.

If I’m honest, the reason is that I want to be here. I don’t want to miss anything. I’m selfish with my children. I want to break up their fights and feed them lunch and laugh at their dancing and send them to time-out. I want to see all the parts of their day that add up to the over-tired meltdowns at 6:00 p.m.

And I want them to remember that I was there.

My mom was there. She was there as a stay-at-home mom when I was little, and she was there when ‘Jennifer the babysitter’ watched us while she worked part-time. She was there when I was in middle school and she worked, and she is there now that I’m 30-something with my own kids to raise.

I think about my life with my mother, and I can’t remember all the details. I can’t remember baking cakes or making crafts. I can’t remember the stories that we read or all the times that she pushed me on a swing. My horrible memory is partly to blame–but those details aren’t important. I remember what is important–she was there.

She is there.

A trust is between us that wouldn’t be otherwise. For 32 years, she has been by my side. For 32 years she has poured into my life, through the explicit advice she has given and the implicit lessons she has taught. I see a woman who worked hard for her children, and a woman who has compassion for others. I see a woman who displayed integrity always and sought accolades never.

I see a woman who does justly and loves mercy and walks humbly with her God.

Without explicitly saying these words, my mom taught me a lesson–what I love best about my job is that I am here; I see most of my children’s days and have opportunities that I wouldn’t otherwise–but I can be here even when I’m not.

My kids might not remember the times we baked banana bread or planted vegetables in the garden. They might not remember the time they had to scrub the crayon off the wall or apologize to their sister.

They will remember if I was here, truly here. They won’t pin down a moment, but they will feel the lifetime of moments, the hours of undivided attention, whether those hours were given over the course of a full day or after the workday was done until bedtime.

They will remember how I made them feel, just like I remember my how my mom makes me feel. And when I think of my own mother, well, I can’t help but smile.


This week I tried combining Mama Kat’s previous prompt of what I like best about my job with this week’s prompt–what is one lesson from your mom that has never left you? I’m not sure if it worked, but, alas, here it is! What is a lesson you learned from your mother?

Mama’s Losin’ It


A Mother’s Strength

I often wonder how she did it, how she raised my sister and me states away from her own family, many nights alone while her husband traveled every week. I never felt unloved or neglected by my father, but I know now the added stress for a mother who feels like she is parenting alone.

I never knew she felt tired or lonely; I never knew of her aggravation or frustration. I saw unity from my parents and felt blessed to have a family held tightly together.

It is only now, as she reaches out to me as one who understands, that I understand the strength of my mother.


When I look to how I parent, how I love, how I cook, how I clean, I realize the imprint of my mother that I carry over me. I’ve sought her example and advice for issues ranging from fevers to family.

But my mother-in-law didn’t have a mother’s wisdom from which to draw. Having lost her own mother at a young age, she was not afforded the same opportunity to learn as I. Yet when I look at my husband, I marvel at the imprint she left on him. I marvel at the children she raised and the love that she shares.

And it is now that I share life with my husband and accept wisdom from her own lips that I understand the strength of his mother.


Happy Mother’s Day to my mothers who have taught me more about strength, not with words, but with their lives. I pray that one day my children, too, will see a strong woman when they look into my eyes the way I do when I look into yours.  Love your daughter, Jennifer


The Heart of the Matter

In honor of Mother’s Day, I am linking up with Lisa-Jo, a.k.a. the Gypsy Mama, to explore why moms matter. If you haven’t already, I highly encourage you to visit her website.  Not only is Lisa-Jo an incredible writer, but she has wonderful insight into pursuing a relationship with God.  You will be blessed by your encounter!

I know full and well the importance of Mom.  When I taught high school, I watched teenaged girls crumble under the weight of their grief after the loss of their mothers, unable to focus on schoolwork, maybe just not caring.  After all, how did Language Arts even compare to a day without their mothers?  I remember a friend from college who went to the doctor every time he had the slightest cold; his mother had died from cancer when he was 13.  And even after 16 years without my Nana, I see the longing in my own mom’s eyes when she talks of her mother.

Some friends share delightful stories of their mothers, while others are consumed with bitterness for the wounds their mothers created.  No matter the story, all have a place in their hearts that wants to hold fond memories and affection for the women who bore them.

My youngest just turned one.  Lately, I have spent a lot of time looking back over the past year, and I find many moments of ambivalence. In one moment I love deeply as my baby lay her head on my chest, the next I struggle to suppress the desire to yell at my children in frustration.  In one moment, I thank God for the gift of my new daughter, the next I question why we ever thought having three kids in three years was a good idea.  I look at my writings from the past year, many used as a method to unburden my soul and work through my own guilty feelings, equally as many filled with smiles as I laughed at the follies of myself and my children.

When I think about this past year, there is so much I want to do over. I don’t want my children to remember me losing control, not showing them tenderness and patience. I want the day I die to be filled with tears over losing the mother who created the delightful stories, not the mother who created the wounds that never healed.  Yet every time I find myself dwelling too long in guilt and despair, the kindness of God softly nudges me like a cool breeze, prompting me to move away from that place that He did not create for me.

This week, I searched my mind for why moms matter, and writing from the perspective of a daughter, I could fill pages and pages of why my mom matters to me. However, I had a much harder time writing from the perspective of the one who matters.  Why do I matter?  And because I couldn’t answer without falling into that place of guilt, God spent time with me so that I could answer this question.

When God chose to save humanity, He did so through His Son, Jesus.  Most of what we know about Jesus is from the start of His ministry when He was around the age of 30.  God’s plan could have started with this God-Man sent from heaven at age 30, dropped in the middle of the desert, suddenly appearing before John the Baptist to get baptized. Yet we know Mary carried Jesus in her womb, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, fulfilling numerous prophesies about the Messiah.

I don’t pretend to know the mind of God,why He chose to send Jesus as a baby, but this week I couldn’t stop thinking about Mary.  Whenever I think about Mary, I think about this woman God chose to carry His Son, calm and mild, the perfect mother.  But she wasn’t perfect; she was just chosen.

I wondered if she ever cried herself to sleep at night, overwhelmed by the task put before her.  Did she ever cry simply because she had a bad day with her children? Did she ever wish she spent a little more time hugging and kissing and less time allowing frustration to consume her?

I picture Mary going about her daily tasks while a young Jesus looked on. He saw a hard-working mother, a mother who loved her children and wanted to please God.  He was a recipient of her affection.

And as all children do, Jesus carried a special place in His heart for His mother, so much so that some of His last words on the cross were for Mary, ensuring she was cared for after His death and Resurrection: “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home'” (John 19: 26-27).

I have found comfort in the fact that Jesus belonged to a family.  As God, He already knows everything, yet by coming to Earth and, in the great mystery of our faith, clothing Himself in humanity while not losing His divinity, He experienced the mother-son relationship. He witnessed and received the blessings of a good mother, all the while being the source from whom we receive blessings.

When I find myself discouraged and disheartened, I remember that He knows. I receive strength and comfort knowing that my Lord took on the role of a human, felt the emotions I feel, saw the struggle that mothers have, and tasted the joy–the joy that a mother brings to the heart of her child. That joy is where He wants me to focus.

I may not be perfect, but I, too, have been chosen.  God chose me to be the mother of Caleb, Hannah Grace, and Chloe, a calling I do not take lightly.  It is a calling I am worthy to take because I matter–I matter to God, and I matter to my children.  And when it comes down to it, nothing else really matters.

Happy Mother’s Day.  May God give you the strength to fulfill your calling with peace, joy, and laughter.