I have known for awhile what it is I wanted to share on this day. A couple years ago an older friend showed me a letter that was found among her aged mothers things. A letter from a mother with grown children, reflecting on her life as a mother and her gratitude for her children.
It has been a great source of encouragement to me, to see how an older woman looked back over her life and role as mother and I hope that it encourages and inspires you to keep on dear mama! Keep on, serving with joy and faithfulness, in this great adventure of mothering.
I’m tired of hearing parents brag about how much they have given their children – time, money, schools, service, advice. For me, my children, the shoe has been on the other foot. Now that I am nearing the end of my tenure in office as an “active;” I want you to know that I am more than I was before you came.
You have looked on me with the eyes of love and have seen me – not as I really am – but transfigured into something better. And through the years, it has been my ambition to reach that ideal! Just the striving has made me grow.
You have given me a courage not inherent to my nature. I frighten easily. Snakes scare me; unguarded, open windows at night make me restive. But through the years when I was alone with you and was the only protection between you and the potential danger, something happened to me. I became more than I was.
You have taught me which things were “real” and which were “show.” This is one of the insights God grants to children and to old people. As children you were not much interested in haste, fashion, or social climbing. You were interested in being free, friendly, and unhurried. And I, too, have learned to slow the pace of the unimportant race, to accept with equanimity the too-great criticism or the too-great praise. Style I accept – but not fashion; value – but not price; purpose – but not rush.
You have claimed me! Until you have children of your own, you cannot understand what that means. How proud I have been when you have said, in introducing me “… and this is my mother!” – with a little something in your voice that say you find me acceptable – not too old, or too fat, or too unlearned, or too unstylish to be taken seriously.
A mother is judged to be no better than her children show her to be. She can be an excellent teacher, but if her own children are unworthy, she is suspect. You have had the decency to be decent young people. I am proud to follow where you have been. I am proud to introduce you where I have been. That’s what good children do for a mother.
You have brought me closer to God than I could have approached on my own. When I was young and single, how sure I was of my armor and my right arm. But after you came, I was much more vulnerable.
I could not take every step with you, or caution you against each danger, or take your illness upon myself. I needed a faith in which to believe. I cried out – and God was there! So through the years, He has quietly taken my hand. If there were deserts, there were, also, oasis; if there were mountains, there were, also, resting places. I’m glad that I have tasted all that life had to offer – the storm, the heat, the engulfing wave – but I am glad that I didn’t have to do it alone!
You have taught me to look on “time” as a friend … not as one who steals up in the night to catch me unaware and do me harm. When I see the gray of my hair, the wrinkles that are left-over footprints of care, the glasses that bring the eye of the needle into focus, I do not panic and wonder where “time” has gone. I know where the time has gone – and I am content!
My corn stands tall with good rich ears; my barn is full; my stock has brought forth healthy young. My autumn is fulfilled. Thank you, my children. I am your debtor – not your creditor.
[This was written and given to her children by Lucile T. McKie, mother of six sons and one daughter, towards the end of her life.]
This concludes the series 31 Days of Encouragement for Mama that is running through the month of October. Check out all the posts in the series here.