Sunday, May 08, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Mothering

My kids at Christopher's wedding, four years ago now!

Mother's Day this year finds me walking slowly due to back spasms brought on by chilly, damp weather.  Remember the old commercial, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature?".  I feel as if she is fooling us this spring with a brief warm up and then this cold rainy stuff.  Why, it could cause a usually sanguine person to become cranky.  ;)

Mr. and Mrs. Christopher took us out to lunch at a favorite neighborhood restaurant from our "old" neighborhood.  It was a nice walk from our house at the time and we would have breakfast there once a week.  Back when there were four of us and our two former kitties were in feline middle age.  It is still a favorite place that hasn't changed much since those days.

I find this day can bring about memories both good and bad... second only to Christmas for most people.  Some of us are missing our mothers while others try not to remember their mothers.  Those who are childless not by choice grieve on this day and those of us who have lost a child, whether through miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, accident, or illness... the day can bring sadness.

There was joy at our table today as we talked about mothers, especially our resident mother-to-be.  All of us are awaiting the arrival of a little girl in July (Stephanie and I are thrilled Mrs. Christopher is expecting a girl).

There are times I get nostalgic for the mothering of old, which was already being lost when I was in high school.  My husband remembers when he grew up (and he is over seven years older than I am), the neighborhood children knew all the mothers as they all knew each other.  It didn't matter whose yard you were playing in, the rules of each family were pretty much the same and if you broke one at a friend's house... you would hear about it when you arrived home.

But mothering was considered an important occupation then and while I am thankful for the women's movement for the good things accomplished (it is quite remarkable to think women once were not able to vote), I do feel the chipping away at the value of mothering has been detrimental to society.

I'm not thinking of just our own mothers or the way we mother... but women as a whole mothering the next generation.  For in my husband's childhood, most women were nurturers whether they had their own children or not.  For instance, he still has fond memories of women who were his teachers (and the Latin teacher he downright feared but respected).

Do you remember the Women's Pages in a newspaper?  They began to die out and be renamed around the 1980s in our area of the country but I remember the recipes and the columns about raising children, sewing, fashion, hospitality, etc.  My mother-in-law loved the recipes in the Chicago Tribune and in her papers when she passed away were dozens of prize winning recipes carefully clipped out and many of her family favorites were $5.00 winners (a lot back then).

I know we can't turn back time and I certainly wouldn't want to in my life.  I like being a grandmother.  However, I find myself thinking of the generation of women who came before me when I wear a vintage apron and make a pie from scratch.  Cooking is one of my love languages, I have the spiritual gift of cookies.

I think of my sister Bonnie's mother-in-law, whose memories I have of her were all in her kitchen.  I never knew her as an adult as she passed away about the time I was married but I remember her each Christmas when I give gifts of homemade cookies and candy because her homemade candy was the most anticipated gift each year.

I think of the women before me like my mother who worked outside the home because she had to and got up each morning to go to a job without complaining.  It was just something they did.  She had lived through a Great Depression and WWII and had a lot of grit.  She taught me just how strong women can be when they had to keep going.

I came to realize a long time ago that there are children around us that need nurturing, even if they are not related to us.  God has a way of putting a child, teenager, or college student in our path if we ask Him.  Someone who needs a mother in their life, quite often someone who doesn't realize they need a mother figure.

Someone to listen to them and to pray for them and if time permits, mentor them in God's Word and in the mysteries of womanhood.  Like how to bake perfect cookies, and to salt the water early for pasta and late for beans, and to think before speaking, and to befriend the shy girl, and that Jesus can be their very best friend forever and ever.

Perhaps you know a lonely young mother who needs an older mom to mentor her.  For I remember how clueless I was when I became a mother and we moved away from my hometown when Stephanie was just a few months old.  How wonderful it would have been to have an adopted mother guide me through all those questions.

Mentoring motherhood can begin with offering a neighborhood child cookies and milk (albeit these days one has to ask if they are gluten free and lactose intolerant) or inviting a young woman from church over for an afternoon tea.  If you ask God, He will lead the way by showing you who needs mothering.  You may be surprised to find it is your own teenager who appears so aloof.

Is your relationship with your mother or your children broken in any way?  Ask God how to mend it.  You may have to show forgiveness without expecting any in return.  But that is God's way, you know.  Ask God to love that person through you if you have no feeling of love yourself.  I've been there with people and have been amazed when God does that.  Absolutely amazed. 

Now excuse me as I brew a pot of decaf ginger peach tea and celebrate the rest of my day listening to the Grey Haven's album my daughter gifted me through iTunes and read a little and perhaps watch a PBS Mystery a little later.  That sounds like a very good Mother's Day evening.


Anonymous said...

Loved your writings today. Sometimes I want to be the "Titus" woman--a teacher and encourager of younger women. But sometimes (even though I will be soon be 69 years old), I would like to have a "Titus" woman in my life, someone to hug me and "mother" me. Thanks for your wonderful words. Wishing you a blessed Mother's Day. I know you are so looking forward to the "big event" of a new granddaughter and living so close that you can get in some quality spoiling time. Blessings, Sharon D.

Mary said...

You are such a "gift", Brenda. Your evening sounds wondie! Tea and a mystery :-)
Happy Mother's Day to you <3

rebecca said...

I share many of your perspectives re. mothering - past and present.
Sometimes I wonder how it "felt" to be a mother back then. Was it really as graceful and beautiful as it appeared to us as children?
As for my Mother's Day.....I had calls & messages from all 3 of our children, spent some time reading Susan Branch's "Martha's Vinyard: Isle of Dreams", the afternoon with my mother who is lying in a bed in a nursing home, and evening in my recliner (fell asleep while hubby watched PBS Mystery).
Wondering what the weather will do here today (Hubby says 60% chance of rain which may prohibit a trial walk we'd hoped to take....)

Morning's Minion said...

I think many of us feel nostalgia for the style of mothering still practiced when we were growing up. Young women today so often seem to have produced children outside of stable relationships, with little sense of nurture or relationship.
Maternal feelings and skills didn't come naturally to me; although I took the practical side of mothering seriously I always felt lacking in the ways of relating to children that came easily to others.
I mentioned this once to my daughter when she was taking college courses in her 30's.
"But you read aloud to us," she declared. That alone was a surprising benefit to her--a familiarity with books and ideas which she found younger students didn't have. I daresay that reading to a child also counts as 'quality time.'

Rachel and Family said...

This is such a beautiful post. Thank you. Lord Bless You.

Anonymous said...

A beautiful reminder of how truly important mothers are. And how difficult Mother's Day can be for some. Thanks you for encouraging women of all ages to reach out and be the hands and feet of Jesus to those around them!

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

What a great post on Mothering! I agree so much about God giving us people to mother, that sometimes are not our own. I have this with my daughter in law. Her mother died very young, the summer my son and she met. My daughter in law was only 20 and in need of mothering still. God brought us together.

I love being a mother and now a friend to my adult children, too. It's a valuable occupation, so needed in our world!

Sounds like your day was great!

Anonymous said...

Your words are such a comfort. So much practical knowledge without leaving Jesus once !! Karen

Heather LeFebvre said...

Happy Belated Mother's Day to you!!! So excited you are going to have a little granddaughter in town soon!!!! Yes, I agree that we need to have our eyes open to nurture those around us.

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

A lovely thoughtful post.

I am older than your husband and I grew up in that world where we knew all the neighborhood mothers and older women and they knew us. And we had immense freedom and the world felt safer.

And then when I entered my twenties it seemed to change. When I was a SAHM in the 70s and even 80s I felt a tiny bit defensive when people (women) asked me what I did. I had no career. I was a wife and mother. I really liked that and it fit with my husband's life as a professor. It was what I wanted, and what Paul wanted, but somehow I felt a bit guilty about it.