Since giving birth for the first time on December 3, 1989, I've known how much of a blessing the assignnment of "motherhood" is, but as the sweethearts who were once my little girls have grown into womanhood, I realize more and more that being a mother is, to me, the greatest calling to which God could have ever charged me. To do it properly is not easy. The physical process of birthing children is challenging enough; especially for those of us who did it naturally without pain medication of any kind. But motherhood doesn't stop there; that's only the beginning. Mothering isn't just a job. It's a lifetime career...and it's quite possibly the toughest commitment a woman could ever make. However, what I have learned is that when it's done God's way, it is also the most rewarding.
When they were toddlers, preteens, and even teenagers bordering on adulthood, I had many people to tell me that I was too strict of a mother. I didn't allow them to go just anywhere, do just anything, or talk or behave any old kind of way. My daughters are my heart. Always have been, always will be. They are two people for which I would kill or be killed, and I have no qualms about saying that. I have given them my last. I have sacrificed my own needs so that theirs could be met. But none of that makes me anybody special. That just makes me a mother. Sacrificing and protecting our young should be what every mother does. It should be our natural instinct. We give, give, and give some more. This should be expected from us. Because we're mothers.
But what do we expect from our children...or do we expect anything at all? We are all born into this world as ignorant creatures. We know nothing until we are taught by way of example and education. Structure and discipline are a part of good mothering. When done the right way, they help our children learn right from wrong and help to keep them on the right path. I was a tough mama. I admit it, and I'm not regretful of it. I've loved my daughters every single day of their lives, but when they were children growing up in my home and under my roof, there were rules by which to live. Respect from them was earned and demanded; not only respect for me and for others, but also for themselves. A girl who respects herself will grow into a woman who knows her worth. They got lots of hugs and kisses, but when needed, punishments were also given (and yes, that included spankings). Mama didn't play. Truth be told, she still doesn't, so don't let the short stature fool ya! On the dates that they were born (both are December babies just like me), I gave them back to God. I promised Him that I would raise them according to His will, and in return, I asked Him to make them instruments for His glory. I didn't know what their futures held, but I knew that I was placing them in the best of hands when I gave them back to Christ.
Two days before Mother's Day 2012, my firstborn graduated from The University of Georgia, having earned dual degrees (yes, two majors) in her four-year stint. She earned a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Bachelor of Arts (Journalism) and was named a "Grady Ambassador" by UGA's Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Months before graduating, she had already been selected by the Teach for America Corps and had a job awaiting her, to educate and mold young minds in the elementary school system of Jacksonville, Florida.
Meanwhile, my baby girl has just successfully completed her freshman year and is now eagerly looking forward to return to Georgia Gwinnett College in the fall for her sophomore experience toward her degree in Business. She's bright, she's bold, she's beautiful (and she knows it...LOL!). No less than greatness is expected from her as she continues her journey through college, and I look forward to the day when I will see her take the same walk of excellence and achievement that her older sister just experienced.
The slogan, "the gift that keeps on giving" is a popular one. It's been used and reused for decades as a marketing tool to promote various products. However, I think it's perfectly fitting to use it to describe motherhood. The returns on good mothering never stop coming back to the giver. Even after our children reach adulthood, they will continue to give us returns on the greatest investment we've ever made. I'm a witness to that fact.
All Mother's Days are special to me, but this Mother's Day weekend felt more like extraordinary. My firstborn graduated college. My baby girl presented me with a touching card, a beautiful potted flower, and balloons. My firstborn cooked and served me breakfast in bed, and after the three of us attended Sunday worship together, she turned around and cooked and served me dinner in bed (both meals were delish). Even my baby girl's beau surprised me with roses as I still sat in bed after eating the dinner my firstborn had prepared for me. Today, I felt like a queen, and it's all because the gifts that God gave to me, that I turned around and gave back to Him, are continuing to give to me. That's a mouthful, I know. But if you didn't catch it the first time, read it again...it makes all the sense in the world.
Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to be a mother. Please continue to hold my daughters in your protective, loving hands. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.