There are six women in my life that I will always celebrate on Mother's Day: my Grama Huisman (now with the Lord), my Grama Medema (my last living grandparents), my mother-in-law (Mary!), my Joni (Isaac's birth grandmother and my "second" mom), my Bri (Isaac's birthmom), and my mother, Diane.
While all these women are incredibly wonderful influences in my life, I wanted to take this mother's Day to celebrate my Mother's 40th anniversary of being a Mom.
You see, she had me way back on May 22, 1977. That means she didn't get to celebrate her first Mother's Day until I was almost a year old. Which means this Mother's Day is her 40th.
I hope this post celebrates her and let's her know what a good job she has done.
Let me tell you something about my Mom. She is hard on herself. Like really hard on herself. She grew up kind of learning to be hard on herself and then married my Dad when she was still a teenager and moved to South Florida and immediately jumped into the role of motherhood without a lot of time or preparation or real-world knowledge.
She was young raising me, and my Dad was a coach who worked long hours. She was often at home with me and then my brother who came two years later without a car and without much money. But she did the very, very best she could.
I have not a single negative memory of my Mom as a little girl. However, I know she has many memories of growing up with me that she doesn't like to think about. She feels she made mistakes or bad choices while she helped me grow.
But here's the thing, while she may feel that way, I don't feel that way. Not even for a second. I have only happy memories of my childhood. Sure, as I got older there were the normal parent/child stand-offs ... but I look at the woman I am and I am proud of that woman. And as a mom now myself I think to myself, if I raised me, I'd be happy.
And not only me but my brother too. She raised two kids who are both happily married to their first spouse and devoted to their families. She raised two kids that love the Lord fiercely and without abandon. And she raised two kids who are truly doing a good job.
I have always said that if my children grow up at peace and in love with the Lord, I have done my job.
Well done Mom. You did just that.
Here are some other things that make me very proud of my mom:
My mom has always accepted and loved John and then Keith's wife Adrienne, with all parts of her as if they were her own children. She has always acknowledged the choices we make as a couple and respected our decisions. She never intrudes. She never oversteps. She is polite and kind. She will often put her own desires on the back burner so that we are at peace. (For example: my mom willingly accepted "Christmas Eve" as our family's celebration day when John and I got married. He had such a large family and they had extensive Christmas Day traditions, and so my mom sacrificed her own desires so that there was peace in our families.) This is only ONE example. My mom does this regularly! Sometimes she does it TOO much. But that's a whole 'nother story.
My mom prayed EARNESTLY for me to be a mother. She stood by me for five long years as I yearned for children. She didn't always know what to say but she knew how to PRAY. I knew my mom was praying for me every moment she had. She was in pain for me. But this picture here is a picture of her holding her first grandson: our Isaac. She prayed that baby into my arms. I truly believe she is part of the reason we are parents today and that she celebrated even MORE than I did. :)
My mom is NOT an adventurer by nature. But folks, this is my Mom in Cappadocia, TURKEY! My mother flew to Turkey with Joni in October of 2010 so she could see me and my new home and my two little boys. This was WAY out of her comfort zone, but she did it. And she did it for her but also for me. Okay, and maybe she did it to see my Grandkids. I was so proud of her.
In July of 2011 my Mother got on a plane with my Dad and flew to Germany to be present for the birth of my first daughter. My mom (and my dad's mom) always believed I would have a daughter. After two miraculous sons, I never DREAMED I would have a daughter and did not even think I wanted one. But my mom knew better. I think she always knew she was going to hold my little girl. I know what my mom is doing during this picture. She may look like she is holding a baby. But I know she was praying. I know she was thanking the Lord. I know she was praying for Abigail and her future.
After a trip with Joni and a trip with my Dad, my mother got on a plane and flew to the Azores, Portugal BY HERSELF. Folks this is not an easy thing to do for a seasoned traveler, but traveling is not even really my mom's thing. And yet she did it so that she could be with us. The other thing that I loved about my Mom when she came to visit me in Turkey, Germany, and the Azores was that she wanted to experience the country. Any restaurant we went to, she would ask me to get the most authentic dish and she would try it (and love it!) She wanted to really understand the life we were living and participate whole-heartedly!
My mother is also a daughter and the oldest of five children. Here is a picture of her with her two sisters and my Grama. I have very special love for all of the beautiful women in this photo. This would need pages and pages to share about all these gals ... but I thought this was a beautiful picture with some very special gals who are all celebrating kids and grandkids today.
My mom is a great neighbor. These are her family next door: Islande and her beautiful daughter, Dasmi (and her husband and son not pictured). My mother has always felt her family is who God has called her to. And she embraces and loves those people whole-heartedly. She loves whoever she is with and she will truly treat them just like her own.
For the last MANY years my parents have hosted and run a weekly "home church" in their townhouse. These people are my parents' family. Aren't they beautiful? And you know what I love about this picture? This was how I was raised. I was raised not ever looking at people for the color of their skin. My mother (and of course my Awesome Dad too) taught me to love ALL people no matter their color or ethnicity (or the sin in their life!) All people are children of God. I remember my Dad and Mom telling me, "You marry whoever you want Wendi. All we ask is that he loves the Lord." I was brought up to be kind and respectful and to not judge other people. My parents have truly always looked at the HEARTS of people, and I believe they instilled this in me. This group of people above have been a huge part of my parents' lives, and when I came to stay with them for six weeks when I was having Hannah, they embraced me like one of their own!
See this picture here? It may seem like a simple photo taken the night before I had my fourth child. But it is so much more than that. This was me living with my parents for SIX WEEKS. We lived in the Azores at the time, but I had to come back to the States to have Hannah. My parents opened up their three bedroom home to us -- giving us two of their bedrooms. Not only that, they helped me and served me during a horrendous pregnancy. John wasn't with me so my mom would race home from work to help me with the kids and life during this very difficult time so far away from my husband and home. Throughout my life they have opened up their home to me, my children, (and my dog!) for weeks at a time so that I could get support when JB was unable to be there.
My mom is NOT an animal person. And yet, because she loved me, she let me bring my rambunctious puppy to her house on numerous occasions despite how truly BIG that offer was. During our years on Eglin AFB, John did two weeks of "nights" a few times a year. I would always drive to South Florida to spend time with my parents. First I came with Scrubs. Then Scrubs and one son. Then Scrubs and two sons. My Mom ended up falling in love with Scrubs, and I believe she took his death nearly as hard as I did. He made her a dog person because her heart is so big and she had to let him in!
As my mom has come and visited me on the farm, she continues to step out of her comfort zone and try things in and around the farm with the animals and land we have here. She is not really an outdoor person and definitely not a farm person. But she doesn't let any of that hold her back. This is not IN her, but she is determined to be PRESENT and PARTICIPATE wherever she is. Honestly, I don't think my Mom would say no to anything I told her I needed her help with. If she is needed, she answers the need.
My Dad and Mom are now the grandparents of 7 amazing kids. And they love them all FIERCELY! They brag on their grandkids often and truly love each of them for the unique children of God they are.
Even if things get a little crazy from time to time.
Painting Hannah's fingernails. Grama Di will try any game or any adventure that one of her grandkids asks of her. She truly loves them "a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck!"
This is my Dad and Mom's legacy. Thirteen people who all love Jesus and life. What more could a Grama ask for?