I wrote this for my Mom for Mother's day 2001.
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Proverbs 31:30
I don’t know who took this picture, but I guess it was taken about 1947. My mom was about 17 in it. I could ask my mom, but I ‘m not telling her I’m doing this because I want to surprise her. My mom was born August 16, 1929 in the Philippines. She’s not Philipino, her dad was in the army. She was an army brat. My mom married my dad when she was 19 years old. I also married my husband at 19.
In 1999 Mom and Dad celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Although the years were not all “sweetness and light”, my parents relationship had “been through the fire” and they emerged still committed to each other. After all had they not promised “for better or for worse”? In 1951 my oldest brother (Timothy) was born. She had three more sons in ’53 (Mark), ’55 (Christopher), and ’57 (Paul). You bet they were excited to FINALLY have my sister (Rebecca Ellen) on December 30, 1959! My oldest brother was only 8 years old! I have five children but mine are 3 and 4 years apart! There’s a big difference there, if I have to run out to the market to feed this crew, I can leave them with my oldest who is 14. Then mom and dad had another boy in 1963 (Jonathan). I’m very proud and I think Mom is too, to say my brother’s dream to be in law enforcement finally became a reality last year, despite his age. Who would have ever thought when we were growing up watching “Adam 12” that Jon would one day actually be an officer with the L.A.P.D.! I am the “baby”, and 2ndgirl,born in 1966.
When I was about seven years old, I can remember waking in the middle of the night. I was gripped with fear. My sister had turned off the light, it was on when I went to sleep. If I could just get to mom’s room I’d be O.K. So I ran down the hall. I never felt safer than right there in between mom and dad. But this soon became a nightly ritual. Mom became weary of her 7th child waking her in the middle of the night. The next night I came to her room she took me down the hall to the family room, we sat down in my dad’s big green chair, I was on her lap- she prayed for me not to be afraid. This also reminds me of myself: how often is prayer the “last resort” when it should be the FIRST thing we do!? Mostly, I wearily tell my children to make a bed on my floor when they come in my room scared at night.
The contest on the Christian radio station said to write about the best advice your mom ever gave you. I asked my mom when my oldest two children were young, “How do I get them to clean up?” Was there a hurricane through here or something? Mom said “You have to help them.” Teaching by example is the best way. My mom had taught me a great lesson by example, although I don’t think she realized it. The lesson was: Forgiveness: In 1978 my parents began having marital trouble, my dad went to North Carolina and was thinking about getting a divorce. We lived in the San Fernando Valley in California. Yeah, I was almost a “Valley girl”. But, thankfully, my parents got back together and my parents, my youngest brother and I moved all the way across the country to Boca Raton, Florida. [my dad worked for IBM, you know I’ve Been Moved?!] This is what Dad wanted. I think my mom still feels some guilt over leaving my sister, then 18, in LA (with her older brothers). But your marriage is MORE important than your children! Because marriage was originally intended to be for LIFE.- “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” However, our children are only “loaned” to us for a little while.
The “guilt trip” seems to be a thing we like to send moms on. I recently went on that trip myself. On January 28th I had our 5th child. I was going to nurse her, like my others. I had nursed my other four until they were 2 years old! My precious Lydia Ellen had weighed 10lbs. 1oz., and was starving that first night home! She would nurse, go to sleep and wake up 10 minutes later, by 5 A.M., I was sore. I had been through this before but didn’t give up nursing. That’s me-Martyr Mom. I woke up my husband to go make the sample formula from the hospital. Lydia Ellen is a healthy, happy bottle and breast fed baby. Mom told me not to let anyone make me feel guilty. However the “Pediatric Nurse Practitioner” said to me “nursing is still the best thing for them”. This woman is pregnant with her third and was criticizing this homeschooling mother of five! I later thought “Well the BEST thing for them is staying home with them for the first three years of life, who’s watching YOUR children while YOU pursue YOUR career?” I know a woman who just had her 6thchild the same week I had Lydia. Tina’s little “sweetie pie”, Jordan, has cleft palate. It is IMPOSSIBLE for him to nurse! Yet, STILL Tina was sent on “mom’s guilt trip”. Why? I think we’ve “strained out a gnat and swallowed a camel” in this country when it’s O.K. for one million woman to “choose” to kill their children by abortion every year but “God forbid” you bottle fed!!! If you have been a victim of “choice” and had an abortion or talked someone into one please know that there is forgiveness and healing in Jesus. I highly recommend the book “I’ll Hold You in Heaven” by Jack Hayford.
With all that said I’ll get down off my “soap box” and get back to my mother: Things went well in Boca for about 3 years. Then my dad “went off” again. Despite what my Dad says all the evidence points to Bipolar Disorder [Manic-Depression]. He seems a totally different person when he's in his "high" moods. He was unfaithful to my mom. I was an idealistic teenager and mad at him. I wanted mom to divorce him because she had biblical grounds [Matt.5:32]. She said “I promised to love him ‘in sickness and in health’ and he’s sick”[Mental Illness]. My mom didn’t sign the divorce papers and my dad eventually “came to his senses” and came back to her. I wish that was the last time he did that but it wasn’t : he did it again in 1994, however he didn’t have an affair this time. After he came back, my mom told him I was still hurt about before and he later apologized for what he did when I was a teenager and reassured me that it wasn’t going to happen to mom again. When I was a teenager and mad at dad my mom told me a story to appease my anger: Dad was supposed to go for a vasectomy after my brother, Jon was born but chickened out, then I came along. It did help, a little, but I needed to forgive him regardless.
Mom and I in the 80s when I was a teenager
Let me tell you about my husband. His name is Bob and he is a wonderful husband and father when he’s around. Bob is an electronics engineer at Warner Robins Air Force Base, here in Warner Robins Georgia . They say you marry someone like your father. The longer I’ve been with Bob [married since 1986] the more I realize how much like my dad he is! They’re both smart: my dad was a technical writer with IBM , frugal and not big on praise because both their fathers weren’t big on praising them. Would Bob be unfaithful to me, like my dad was unfaithful to my mom? And if he was, would I be able to forgive him and take him back, like mom did? I am glad to say Bob hasn’t been unfaithful to us, at least not the way my dad was. In 1997 we had been looking for a bigger house. We were a family of six then. Bob bought an investment house for us to rent out. But WE needed a bigger house. Then my friend Becky and I found one-it was perfect! Four bedrooms, 21/2 baths , a pool and a workshop! All for the low, low price of $119,000. Bob didn’t really like the house and said we couldn’t afford it. I was very upset and we fought about this house for many weeks. Finally, I had to “submit” to my husband . I struggled often trying to homeschool my head-strong daughter [where does she get that from?], then 10, who wanted her own room! I had taken her to see “the house”, that was a mistake! Sarah and I BOTH had to “give it up”! Bob wanted to build. I said to him ; “They say you have to have a very strong marriage to build a house frankly, I don’t think our marriage is strong enough.” I was homeschooling our children then and I still am. I had wanted Bob to take more time to help me with homeschooling , instead he would be spending less and less time with all of us. I knew Bob would want to do much of the work himself, to save money. He had started on a shed in 1995 and just finished it, how long would a house take him? Once again I had to submit much like mom reluctantly moving across the country away from her “babies”. My parents had moved back to California [Arroyo Grande] in ‘95. Mom wasn’t real “keen” on us building either. Her and Dad wanted us to move out there near them. In the fall of 1998 we bought land in Byron, Ga. across the street from where our friends had just built their house. Bob was already consumed with “the house”. We were looking at many house magazines, plan books etc. But Bob had “analysis paralysis”, so my friend Becky and I called and ordered the house plans. Bob called and changed them. We finally “broke ground” in June 1999, right before going to Ca. for my parents Anniversary. We had applied for and received a building loan for $160,000. The builder we hired said it could be done by October of that year! The builder is gone and it’s STILL not done! It has been a rough two years! I felt this house was Bob’s “other woman” and I was growing to hate “her” more everyday! In April of last year (2000) I met a [handsome] young man and I told him that my husband and I were building a house. He said he knew a couple that started building a house and then divorced. I thought “Yeah, that’s where we’re headed.” But Bob and I had decided we would always “work things out” and divorce would NOT be an option. This young man I met also met my then 3 year old daughter and he said she was “pretty”. “Like mother, like daughter, right?” I thought. Would “someone else” pay more attention to me and the children? Mom could have found “someone else”. She is a beautiful woman , despite her endless battle [like mine] to lose weight! I’ve also been blessed with Mom’s “photographic memory”: wasn’t there something in those vows I said 14 years ago about “forsaking ALL others” [no matter how handsome]? I realized that Satan was out to destroy my marriage much like he tried to ruin my parents and this was ONLY the beginning. But God had blessed me with yet another trait of mom’s: TENACITY.
In May of 2000, I found out I was pregnant. [by my husband, in case you were wondering] This would be our 5th child. I was so happy! FINALLY something I wanted! Bob wasn’t sure we should have any more children. “Now he HAS TO finish the house in 9 months!” I told my friends. Well, he didn’t. I was also very ill all Summer because of my pregnancy. We had checks bounce and big credit card bills because of all the house expenses. I had wanted our baby to be a boy. My mom had told my sister that boys were easier to raise. My sister who doesn’t have any children, yet, thought this was ridiculous. “She may be right” I said. My girls, then 13 and 3 [both are head-strong!] were giving me the most challenges then. I began taking a poll: The overwhelming majority of mom’s with both boys and girls say the boys ARE easier! My friend who is the mother of 8, expecting her 9th [yes, they’re Catholic] said “the girls were fussier from birth and seem to challenge our authority more.” Right down to even having worse “morning sickness” with the girls! Then, very queasy, I thought “Maybe this baby’s a girl?” In September we found out by ultrasound that “baby” is indeed a girl. So Bob and I named her Lydia Ellen-FINALLY something we agreed on? When I told mom baby’s middle name, she cried. In August we had put our oldest daughter in public school out where we’re building. The house was “almost done” anyways. It’s been “almost done” for a year now! I accidentally told the school board we weren’t living in their county yet. So they kicked Sarah out of school! I’m homeschooling my challenging daughter again. I think I appreciate a little more what mom went through raising my sister and I! Even Dr Dobson said “There’s something about mothers and daughters”. Mom and I haven’t always gotten along great, do any mothers and daughters? That doesn’t mean I don’t love and respect her, though.
In early 1996 my mom had a blood clot go to her lung. She was in the hospital for longer than she had ever been before. This [blood clot in her lung] enlarged her heart. Now she is on oxygen 24 hours a day. Mom always came out here when I had a baby, but our house wasn’t done and we’re short on space. She hasn’t seen her name sake yet. Lydia Ellen has big blue eyes much like mom’s! Mom and dad are also very burdened about my brother in Arizona. He’s been in jail over a year , awaiting trial. My parents were going to come for Easter, surely the house would be done then? It wasn’t. There was a hearing in Arizona, so my parents went there for that. This was physically and emotionally draining for them. I called them on Easter and spoke to mom about it. Summer is so hot here, she said they could come in the Fall. Then I had an idea- “Mom, you want me to bring Lydia there?” She cried again, that meant “yes”. We were to leave on the 16th , but things didn’t work out. I trust that Mom and I will get together soon, though. Some years ago mom gave me a book mark with a poem on it entitled “A Christian Mother” by Ramona K. Cecil. It was supposed to be about me. But I believe it is about her especially the last line which says “Her children love and bless her, and in their lives we see the lessons of the Savior that were learned at Mother’s knee.”
Mom and Dad came in October 2001
PS Mom passed away in April of 2009: Here is poems my Dad and I wrote and the slide show Bob did for us: http://www.wondrous-story.com/Mom.php