Motherhood at times can be an incredibly lonely job. No one knows your children like you do. And you don't want anyone to. Moms can, at times, be their own worst enemy. We find it very hard to admit shortcomings, ask for help, or acknowledge that our child may in fact be the problem instead of the solution. I've been a mom for a little over 21 years. And in those 21 years of parenting three children (see Friday's blog, The Three Bears) I've learned the value of having other honest, authentic, passionate, unsure but wonderful moms in my life.
My mother-in-law. She's been married as long as I've been alive and raised three boys with an iron fist and a velvet glove. Born and raised in East Tennessee she can cook up a storm, surprise you with her quick wit, and remember every child's name she ever taught in pre-school. My mother-in-law tells me regularly that I'm a good mom - and she tells my children, too. She's got my back when the kids go to her for something she knows I've already put my foot down on. But she will also be the first one to quietly, privately tell me when I need to let go a little. She and I made a pact early on to be honest and open with each other. It is refreshing and comfortable to be with her no matter where we are. I've learned from her to make a big deal about the big stuff. Period. She encourages me, prays for me, and loves my kids real good. I'm blessed to have her as a mother-in-law and one of my dearest friends.
My best friend. We refer to ourselves as 'Thelma and Louise' and share a love for coffee that probably has crossed over the line to an addiction. And neither one of us is signing up for an intervention. Our daughters actually introduced us at the mall one afternoon - at the age of 3! - and it's been 'best friend bliss' ever since. Early in our friendship our family was at her house with two other families enjoying a lovely Sunday dinner. After our meal, the ladies were all in the kitchen washing dishes, putting away leftovers, and cleaning up. I noticed one of them knew where all of Lori's dishes belonged and I remember thinking, "I want a friend like that...one who knows me so well that she knows where all my dishes are." On SO many levels, I can honestly say that nine years later, Lori knows where my dishes are! We laugh, we cry, we pray, we watch movies, we sit quietly, we 'vent', and we share a ministry at our church together. Lori knows me and loves me in spite of - and because of - my weaknesses and warts. She is my safe place and my secret keeper.
My cousin. Growing up one of ten cousins on my mother's side, we were equally divided among boys and girls. The one closest in age to me, thankfully, was another girl. She is physically beautiful but her inner qualities make her breathtaking. Barbie is warm, engaging, witty, unselfish, and strong as steel. She married earlier than I did and started her family before I did. Nothing in this world has ever brought her more happiness, joy, and contentment than being a wife and mom. She truly lives for her family. Her boys adore her, her daughter wants to be like her, and her husband is a great guy who knows he married WAY up. Barbie is happiest when her home is full of family and friends and she can take care of everyone around her. I honestly believe if God had chosen to bring Jesus into the world in the 20th century, He might very well have chosen my cousin to be His mother.
Miss Dottie. One of the greatest blessings I've experienced as a grown woman is knowing Miss Dottie. We met by chance (and God's design) at a Wednesday evening church supper and I knew instantly she was someone special. Miss Dottie was put on this earth to love people and to pray. She has the uncanny ability to make everyone around her feel important and special. She calls me 'darling' and it somehow makes my whole world better. Miss Dottie has literally prayed down mountains. If it's 95 degrees and clear blue sky outside when she prays for rain, she picks up her umbrella. She will cry over a friend's pain as if it's her own and shout for joy at the smallest victory. I had the amazing privilege of being mentored by Miss Dottie for two years. She taught me how to pray; and that taught me everything else.
My Mom - Quite simply, a fabulous woman. You can read more about her in tomorrow's blog because I saved the best for last.
These women are my family, friends, truth-tellers, and cheerleaders. I'm not alone in this thing called Motherhood. And I'm so very thankful.