As I think back about my childhood, there were many moments that were instrumental in shaping me, and my mother was an important part of most of them. She pushed my sisters and I to be creative, to play outside, to read, and to try new things constantly. We didn’t always like everything we tried, but in some ways, she forced us to enjoy being kids. Living way out in the country with limited TV and no Nintendo (gasp!), we had to come up with ways to entertain ourselves. We wrote our own plays, made up our own games, built forts and imagined we were cowboys, space travellers and jungle explorers.
But as I sift through all those happy memories about my mother, the one that sticks out to me is actually not one of those… but it means more to me than the rest.
When I was about 9 years old, I was a bit of a strange and unusual kid, probably for many of the reasons mentioned above. And in fourth grade, I found myself suddenly labeled as one of the nerdy, weird kids. I was clumsy and I dropped things. I was distracted and I got lost in the books I was reading. I was definitely picked last for dodgeball. I would watch, devastated, as the other girls in class passed around notes and invitations to birthday parties that I wasn’t invited to.
As a result, I tried very hard to be liked and to be accepted, which unfortunately spiraled into an annoying, sad kind of desperation that pushed me even further away from the other kids. I was crushed and miserable.
My mother, of course, was observing all of this. And like any kid, I told her about some things, but not everything. I wasn’t sure if she could understand.
After five or six months of pure torture, I remember her sitting down on the edge of my bed, and she was quiet for a while before she spoke:
“I don’t know why you’re going through this… but God has important plans for you. Maybe someday you’ll need to know how to be strong and independent – all on your own – and this is how you’re supposed to learn that.”
I personally can’t imagine trying to reason with a fragile nine-year old. But somehow this statement sunk in and it meant a lot to me. It still means a lot to me now. While school that year didn’t become any easier, it gave me a glimmer of hope – and I latched onto that hope and clung to it for dear life.
And looking back now, I know that she was right. There was a purpose.
I’m not sure whether my mother knew that she was making a profound statement at the time. It was probably one of a thousand similar statements that she had been making for years… but this one just so happened to find its mark.
It strikes me that this is the primary job of a mother – it is a relentless, thankless, repetitive task of speaking truth to someone over and over and over again, even if they are not listening, and even if they are not always able to grasp its full meaning. But mothers do it every single day because they know that if they keep on speaking the truth, a spark of it will take root eventually – and that spark can truly change a life.
Thanks, mom. Happy Mother’s Day.