One of my favorite parts of being a mom to adults is brief snippets of time together. It’s often the spontaneous moments. They are like snapshots. We invite each other into our lives and spend moments of time that might seem a bit insignificant but are filled with serious conversations, kidding around, or making plans.
I savor those snippets. Each one feels like a wink. In the context of our lives together, they are the sighs, the small moments of relief among the regular breaths of routine, shallow breaths of crises, and deep breaths of hope.
I think I’ve always appreciated such moments, but as the girls grow their own lives and families, I sense a deeper richness to the moments. Perhaps I experience those sighs as a bit more satisfying and deeper because of the challenges of the past few years.
Being a mom is overwhelming at times, but some of those times, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
Moms, take those snapshots. Group selfies are not necessary to mark the occasion. You don’t have to post it to prove it. Just sit in the moment, soak it up, and sign.
It’s funny the comments I’ve heard since becoming a grandma.
“So, what is she going to call you? Because some people don’t want to be called Grandma.”
Sure, I know some people prefer an alternate name or need an different name to avoid confusion among family members, but I can’t imagine minding being called Grandma. I certainly never minded being called Mom!
It’s funny how we presume certain characteristics that come along with different roles in life. And mainly, those presumptions come from our own experiences. We either respect and admire the people we’ve seen in a role and try to learn from their example, or we see what we don’t want to become in others…and learn from their example. Most of the time, it’s a combination of the two.
The women who have been (and still are) role models for me have taught me a lot. I won’t be exactly like any of them. But I have a lot in common with them. I’ve learned some practical skills, and I’ve learned from some of their mistakes. As much as I’ve learned, I’ll still make many mistakes of my own, no matter how old I become. That’s okay. Because I’ve also learned about humility and authenticity. And if I can be a humble, authentic grandma, I’ll be passing along some important stuff. No matter what kinds of things my granddaughter and I do together, I hope she can catch glimpses of my faith and know she can always explore, ask questions, and grow.
The title of Grandma doesn’t presume much. Just being related doesn’t build a relationship. That requires humility and authenticity, and I’m ready to share.
I’ve written before of the process of quilting. For me, it is a commitment to pray for those who will use the quilt. I usually machine-piece and hand-quilt, and as I sit under the pieces of material and battering, as I pull the thread through the layers to connect them, I savor the connection I have to the person who will be using the quilt.
Most recently, I quilted for my granddaughter. I had the fabric for about a month before I pieced it together. I prefer simple patterns although I admire people who piece with creativity. I’m not sure if it’s because I grew up with basic patterned quilts or if I prefer to save my energy for the small quilting stitches. Even after I pieced this quilt, it was several weeks before I began the quilting process.
I like blocks of time for quilting. I tend to get focused and don’t want to stop, so if I only have an hour to quilt, I’m more likely to keep going and stay up way too late instead of wisely stopping and resting. So, weekend quilting is best for me. I began one weekend and quilted most evenings the following week, but I intentionally set aside the following weekend. Besides work and church, I’d focus on quilting. I turned down a couple invitations to spend time with family and friends, but I wanted to focus.
It was a cozy weekend, snuggled under my granddaughter’s quilt. Whether she finds warmth under it or plays on top of it…or drags it behind her through the yard…she has been prayed for. Even if it is shoved under a bed or misplaced, she has been prayed for. Of course, my prayers for her are not limited to my quilting time, but setting aside that concentrated time made me feel that much closer to her.
She wasn’t expected for three more weeks, but I was close to being finished, so the next three weekday evenings, I quilted and prayed, finishing on a Wednesday night. I stayed up to wash it in gentle detergent and dry it to pull up the cotton batting and give it a vintage quilt look, wrapped it, and delivered it to my daughter’s work the next morning, along with a meal for she and her husband to enjoy that night.
Only they didn’t open the quilt or eat the meal that night, because they were at the hospital. They welcomed their first daughter into the world the next day.
It would have been okay had I not completed the quilt in time. Yet the timing seemed perfect. As I prayed over her in the hospital, I felt as if I was simply continuing to stitch with prayers. Only this time, I got to pray with her in my sight and reach. I already felt as if our lives were sewn together. We had definitely already been prayed together. And that is the best place to be.
She had made me a grandma only a few days earlier. She is a snuggler, and I held her close. As I felt her heart beat against my chest, my own heart seemed to swell. Our lives were already connected and had been for months, perhaps even longer as I imagined what becoming a grandma might be like. But this isn’t what I imagined. Sometimes we cannot imagine the breadth and depth of the reality of an experience.
I don’t know what adventures lie ahead for us. I don’t know what her personality will be like, what hobbies she’ll enjoy, what her laugh will sound like, what will hurt her feelings, and what will be important to her. But I know this: I will savor the process of getting to know her. I will continue to love and pray for her throughout her life. I will encourage her to ask questions, to live authentically, and to seek truth in all things.
I sat in a chair and read two books to my granddaughter as she slept. I hope to read many more books with her in the years to come. I hope to sit together and relax together. I hope to get to know each other and trust each other. I hope to enjoy life together – a life of pure purpose.
There’s a blanket I use when I’m sitting on my couch in the evening, writing or watching a show. There is never a time I place it over my legs that I don’t think of my dad.
Today would have been his birthday.
I bought the blanket for him several years before he died. It was the first Christmas gift I bought that year. I found a special display of blankets in a store, and this one had three labs on it. I picked up one for my dad and one for a brother-in-law. They were inexpensive but proved to be very warm and durable through the years.
I would often walk into the living room and harass my dad for putting the blanket on wrong, putting the dogs on their heads instead of right-side-up. He later started doing it just to harass me. It still makes me smile to imagine his impish grin when he was up to something, which was more often than not.
It’s the same blanket we took to the hospital for his last few days on earth. We didn’t use it often, because he tended to stay warm under a couple light covers, but when we did, I made sure the pups were right-side-up.
At night, another blanket reminds me of my dad – and my mom. For my 50th birthday, she put together a quilt using many of the clothes I remember them having through the years (and some still make me laugh when I reflect on the styles). She had it quilted with a farm pattern, so even when it’s flipped on its back, the design reminds me of life on the farm. It’s warm and just the right weight to snuggle under at night.
It’s an odd thing to move through grief while finding purpose and contentment in life. The memories soothe me but not in a way that keeps me from moving forward and living well. My dad enjoyed life. Even when he met some significant challenges throughout life, he approached them with a sense of humor, common sense, and determination. He always encouraged me to do the same. He always encouraged me to live well, to explore the possibilities, and to see challenges as basic problems to be solved.
I don’t hide under the covers that remind me of him. I don’t live my life because of who he was. I don’t live my tomorrows because of my yesterdays. But he helped me see a balance of freedom and responsibility in life. He planted seeds of faith in me and fostered them in the way he lived. Even the way he died cultivated and grew my faith and affirmed the purpose of my life.
My dad wasn’t perfect. I don’t idolize him. But I appreciate him. I am thankful for the lessons of freedom and responsibility he taught me by example. And not a day goes by without several moments of gratitude for his encouragement to always grow, to fully live, to treat people well, and to choose joy.
After a brisk 15k walk on a chilly but sunny December morning, I went to brunch with my oldest daughter and her husband. It was delicious – definitely worth the wait – but my favorite part was the conversation. We joked around with each other and pulled the server into it a couple times. He came by toward the end to ask if we wanted take-home boxes and drinks. I paused when he asked if I wanted a tea to go, then I declined. He walked away from our table, and I explained my reasoning, “I’ll probably stop by QT for a big drink to take home.”
“Yes, mom, I could see what you were thinking,” my daughter responded.
Apparently, I am a bit predictable. But more than that, it was the thinking process that gave me away. I paused, and my daughter knew I was thinking through my options before responding. It was as if my head was transparent, and she could see what was going on inside.
That’s okay with me. Not that someone knowing I planned to pick up a fountain drink is important in any way, but being transparent and being known is extremely important to me. We can sometimes be scared of being known, or we can be irritated that we are not known. But let’s remember that being known is a process. It requires our transparency, humility, and honesty. It requires us to engage with others, even when we have to muddle through some conversations and situations that are a bit uncomfortable for us. It means setting aside our own selves to know others. It involves setting aside defense mechanisms in order to reflect on the truth of who we are and how we should respond.
It’s a process, and you will face many opportunities to be transparent today. Make an effort to become more transparent with your mind, your heart, and your entire life.