Today is Mother’s Day and it is my 19th Mother’s Day without my precious mother, Bernice Watson, who passed October 29,1998.
I celebrated my 60th birthday a few months back, and it is just recently that I am coming to understand what she meant the many times she told me “You just wait. The older you get, the smarter your parents become.”
Yes, I am a slow learner, but I think I finally get it. It is also why (I believe) the Apostle Paul tells us that the older women should teach the younger women. Oh, certainly this is no proclamation that the older women are more intelligent than their younger counterparts. No! What the older women are, however, is, well … older!
My sister and I were having a conversation recently, and I shared that I believe that even in my forties, at the time of our mother’s death, I was not yet ready to have that “adult to adult” conversation with Mom. There was still that push and pull of Mom still viewing me somewhat as a child who needed her input on many things, to me viewing myself as an adult who had a 16 year old daughter and a 23 year old marriage at the time. Shouldn’t she, at this point, trust me to make wise decisions?
Now, with the gift of time, I am beginning to understand. Some wisdom can only be gained through days, months, years, and even decades. It is not a once and done event, but a process that continues from youth to (I suspect) death. It continues to be gained and should continue to be imparted throughout time. Many experiences must pass through our lives. We must work through many difficulties. We must weather many storms. We must begin many friendships, and sadly, some must end as well. We must forge through many dark times and spend time pondering where and who we are, and perhaps even who and where God is at times.
Many pillow cases will be soaked in tears and many rooms filled with laughter. We will have countless opportunities throughout the years to worry about our own children, and Lord willing, our children’s children as well. We will attend weddings, births, and funerals as well. And some experiences, both good and bad, we will walk through with others, and gain wisdom through their journeys. As each year passes and each wrinkle appears, wisdom is seeping in and attitudes and beliefs are morphing into something more mature and true (if we allow the process, that is).
Somewhere along the path, we realize that the journey is not an Instagram or Snapchat experience. It is extended across time and requires opportunity to marinate in our hearts and souls until it seeps out into our hands and feet, becoming part of our actions as well. We begin to view the world and the people in it with different eyes. We are more willing to give others the time for growth that all need, and that we ourselves have been afforded. We love more deeply, forgive more quickly, and take offense less often. We begin learning to listen to the heart as well as the words, and react more slowly. And perhaps we even begin to understand why our children sometime are not yet able to do the same.
We may begin (as I have of late) to look back across time (something we could not do when we were younger). Now, at 60, it is possible to look back across 20 years, and even 40 years of adulthood. With this long-range view, we can see where we made turns in the wrong direction which changed the trajectory of our lives. We can see opportunities that we missed as well as those that we took. For some things we are oh so grateful, and for others we experience sorrow. Oh, that we could go back and retrieve words that flew out of our mouths, or rewrite attitudes and/or actions.
And because we love our children so very much, we want better for them. We want to save them from taking the wrong turns we took and enduring the accompanying heartbreak. We desire to shorten their wilderness journey to less than forty years! Often we hear from the younger generation that “our parents need to let us make our own mistakes.” I’m sure our parents heard something similar from us. And yes, make your own mistakes, but do you have to repeat mine???? Mistakes they will make; it’s inevitable. But shouldn’t the mistakes be original? It has been said that “A wise man learns from the mistakes of others and avoids them, while the fool has to learn from his own.”
Don’t make my mistakes again, for heaven’s sake, I want to shout!
Yes, if my mother were still living, I would love to sit down and finally have that adult conversation. And I would ask her “Mom, what do you wish you had known when you were 60?” And even, if I were brave enough … “What do you see in my life that is of concern to you?” And of course there would be other questions as well. But as important as the questions, would be what would come after. After I asked the questions, I would remain silent and….listen. And then I would spend time truly considering her input, because it would be coming from a perspective of time and experience not yet available to me. No matter how old I become, there will always be others older and more experienced than am I!
Since it is not, at this juncture, possible for me to have that conversation with Mom, lately I have been seeking out women who have lived decades longer than I have, and asking them similar questions. I am finding much wisdom in what they have to say. It is my prayer that, should I live to be in my eighties, God will still provide me a friend twenty years my elder to continue to impart the wisdom that can only be gained through the passage of time.
So it occurs to me that I could perhaps profit from your wisdom, as well and that of your mothers’! I would love it if you would respond (with either your own personal answer and/or that of your mother) to the question “What do you wish you had known 20 (or 40, or 60) years ago?” And, add to that this question; “What do you most fear the current generation is doing (or not doing) that they will someday deeply regret?”
In conclusion, I am so grateful that I was raised by a godly mother who encouraged me to be honest, hard working, empathetic, and above all, to seek God in all things and at all times.
Thank you, God, for providing such a mother. One day I will again get to sit with her in the Kingdom and tell her how grateful I am for the wisdom that I was not always ready to receive. Yes, Mom, you have INDEED gotten much smarter as I have gotten older.
Prov 6:20 My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. 21Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. 22When you walk, theyd will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. 23For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all of you who have, given birth to, or adopted children. To those who have doctored skinned knees, soothed broken hearts, read bedtime stories and sung bedtime songs. To those who have taught their children godly character as well as life skills. To those who have hosted a houseful of children, teens and young adults and who have made decisions that are sometimes MOST unpopular in order to protect those you love. To those who have spent countless hours on your knees asking that your children be protected both physically and spiritually. May you know today that your investment is worth it and that your time and effort is well spent. And may you live to see the answer to your prayers.
Happy Mother’s Day,
3 Jn 2Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. 3For I rejoiced greatly when the brothersa came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.