One summer day many years ago, driving down South Main Street in one or another of our colorful, A.C.-less minivans, my mother said, looking concerned, “I’m going to turn around.”
“Why?” I whined.
“There was a girl,” she said. “Outside of the Planned Parenthood back there. She was crying. I just think I should go back and see if she’s alright.”
Sweaty and miserable and tired of errands, I slouched down in my seat, huffing and puffing at the inconvenience of my mother’s thoughtfulness. This girl wasn’t my mother’s problem. But now she was my problem too.
We turned around, but the girl was gone. We finished our errands and drove home. My lousy attitude receded.
And yet, I haven’t forgotten this, even though it’s been at least a decade since those minutes in the minivan that I spent feeling sorry for myself, while my mother demonstrated her character and love for others.
My mother has been patient with me through twenty years of my terrible attitudes, stubbornness, lack of appreciation, lack of cooperation, self-absorption, carelessness, laziness, and ridiculous ideas (over a weekend in sixth or seventh grade I became convinced that I was called to be a film actress; this declaration was met with, “Well, if this is something that you really want to pursue, tell me how I can help,” rather than the pessimistic harangue about realistic dreams and required daily diligence that I’m inclined to give my siblings whenever they find themselves suddenly enthralled by some romantic ambition). She has encouraged me as I change my mind and my major and my life plan dozens of times. I’m thankful that she forced me to eat hot cereals and memorize scripture, and I’m ashamed at the way I resisted so many good things. She knew what was best for me. She still does, more often than not.
The Sunday before I left New Jersey for Jordan, an older woman at our church said, “Your mother is very strong. And very selfless, to let you leave. She’s so excited for you.”
That’s right. My mom is strong and selfless, and not by her own strength. In recent months, my siblings and I have witnessed our mother’s unfailing love for the Lord and faith in His Word and promises. We know that our parents watch us grow, but sometimes we forget that our parents are growing too. It’s a blessing to see my mother becoming more like Christ, faith ever-increasing, throughout years of joy and pain.
And in all sorts of contexts, she still stops and turns around when she sees someone in need—despite complaints from the backseat. Someday we’ll learn.
Happy mother’s day, Mommy. ILYYS.