I actually wrote the following blog post a year ago. I’m so glad to report that this year, even though for a second year I’m not getting to spend Mother’s Day with my older children (my husband and I are on a 27th anniversary get away and we’ll be back for Mother’s Day evening with my younger children), I have learned the lesson that I mention in this blog post.
When I was a younger mother I remember feeling (secretly) frustrated about the dilemma of sharing Mother’s Day with the generation before me- that I would feel obligated to make a nice meal for my mother or mother-in-law and miss out on the day of pampering that I so craved. It’s not that I didn’t love and appreciate both of them. I did, very much. I couldn’t have asked for a better mother or mother-in-law and they definitely deserved the attention and special treatment. It’s just that I was weary. I mean, after all, as a young mother you’re very sleep deprived, over-worked, and under appreciated. So it makes sense that young moms should get the day off, right? It was my “Weary Blissful Years of Newness.”
Then the kids got old enough that they, with my husband’s help, could make a meal for me and for my mother or mother-in-law. In those years I experienced some sweet cards from my kiddos. I remember one year getting a little video slideshow from my son on Mother’s Day. Those years were the years of small harvest – not too much reaping of appreciation – you know, some handmade cards, maybe a dandelion bouquet. Those cards and small gifts were precious to me and I cherished each one, but I was also keenly aware of all of my mistakes and failures as a mom. Some years I found Mother’s Day to be difficult because I didn’t feel like I was a good enough mom to deserve the attention and recognition. I was in the “Years of Small Harvest” and “Mistaking Years.”
Next came the “Flying from the Nest Years.” These years were characterized by kids who were growing up, moving out, getting married – for a mama, these are years of tears because adjustments are difficult for mamas, but also years of exciting new beginnings! We love seeing our kids grow up and pursue their passions but since they were our passion, we feel a little lost without them to nurture and to guide.
Now I’m the mom in the middle of a triple decker. My mother and mother-in-law are still living and I have a daughter who is a mother. In fact, I was recently thinking that I’m not a part of the “Sandwich Generation” (as some refer to those who are taking care of parents and children). I’m the Triple-Decker Generation (young child of my own at home, grown children and grandchildren that I get to see on visits, and my parents are still living and will need increasing assistance as age begins to master them). The great thing about the triple-decker years is that they don’t just contain lots of generations in my life, they really contain a BIG HARVEST. It’s the Years of Plenty for this Triple-Decker Generation Mama! My older children are doing great, loving Jesus, and seeing their passions unfold; I’m becoming close friends with my grown kids which is a sublime experience; I’m old enough to not fret about the little things that come up with my not-yet-grown kids because God has proven Himself faithful time after time; I’ve gotten to experience grandmotherhood (sheer delight). Yes, the years of the Triple-Decker Generation are the Years of Great Harvest!
This year, for the first time since I’ve been a mother for 25 years, I’m not going to be with most of my children. This time in my “Triple-Decker Years”, it just wasn’t working out to be with most of the family – our grown children live in another state and had to work; my husband and the younger children traveled to spend this Mother’s Day with my mother-in-law (sadly, she is in the later stages of dementia, is now non-verbal, and we don’t know how many more Mother’s Days she has with us on this side of Heaven.); and I’m home with one of the middles that requires chauffeuring to work. I’m sad for my mom that she won’t be spending Mother’s Day with any children or grandchildren. I’m sympathetic for my daughter that I’m not there to lighten her load on Mother’s Day in the “weary years”, and I’m feeling a little nostalgic about this holiday.
It’s an interesting thing, the combination of Years and Holidays. While holidays are a time for resting, enjoying a change of pace, visiting with those we don’t get to see often enough, holidays are also a time for reflection and gaining of perspective. So what is my perspective, as one speaking from the triple-decker-generation? My perspective is that I didn’t cherish each year of Mother’s Day enough. It was like I would only be satisfied with a dream Mother’s Day. That’s the thing about dreams, they’re not real. So, I was discontent with my Mother’s Days right up to the day I experienced a lonely triple-decker year.
The reality is that I wasted too much of my Mother’s Days on expectations of how Mother’s Day should be for ME. But now that I’m in the triple-decker years of life, I finally see that it wasn’t supposed to be about my high expectations, not about the dream pampering day that never came. It was supposed to be about celebrating the title of Mother, celebrating the miracle of life that each child is in our family, and celebrating the bond we have with each of these precious souls that we’ve been entrusted by our Creator to possess for only a short time. I was so focused on me that I missed the celebration! I can be grateful for all of those things no matter who can join me for the day. I’m learning, in these Triple-Decker Years, that I don’t want to waste the best years. The best years are the years that we’ve got right now, just the way they are – with all of their uniqueness, craziness, unexpectedness, accomplishments, weariness, failures, small harvest, large harvest, multi-generational life. Don’t miss your best years lamenting about what isn’t! Savor today. Take heart-snapshots of these moments and let them shape your perspective on what really matters, what’s worth fretting over, arguing over, or lamenting over, and what we should commemorate on each day that God graciously gives to us.
Happy Mother’s Day, my mom friend.
Gratefully walking this parenting journey right along with you,