Tuesday Grace Letters: Dear Aunt Mary Ann

The incredible Kara Tippets, from Mundane Faithfulness, is hosting her weekly Tuesday Grace Letters. This week our assignment is to write a letter to someone who has made a difference in our story. Someone who has changed our tomorrows, loved us well and taught us about life. I am very blessed to be able to say that I have many of these people in my life. I have said this before, and I’m quite sure it won’t be the last time. I have been given several “mommies” in my life. In each season of my life, God has provided someone to be there for me and to be my “mommy”. This has meant more to me than I can ever say. Ladies, thank you. I sincerely hope you know who you are. But there is one very special and dear lady that stands out.

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My dearest Aunt Mary Ann,

Over the past several years, you have taught me so much. You have loved me so very well. I cannot possibly begin to say how much it has meant to me. You have given me the gift of a godly example for motherhood. Entering into motherhood is a challenge under any normal circumstance. It is just hard. And in the midst of that hard, you have supported me, challenged me, and shown me how to give grace to myself and my family.

When I was a senior in college, we had a professor talk to us about our futures and where our lives were heading. She told us about this nurse she had admired when she was younger and that woman directed the path she decided to take in life. She then instructed us to think of someone we admired, who inspired us. Someone we wanted to aspire to be like.

My first thought was you, Aunt Mary Ann. I didn’t think of a nurse, professor, professional, athlete, doctor or any other “inspiring” professional. I thought of you. Married young (like me), nurse (like me), and mother of seven. Seven!!! You gave up your nursing careeer early in life to be a mother to your children and wife to your husband. To be one of the most loving and selfless women and mothers I have ever met. This is what I wanted for my life. I was a senior, supposed to be focused on my amazing nursing career I would have, the 20 years in the workforce taking care of others and being a nurse for the rest of my life.

And all I could think of was you. The way you cared for your family. The mother you are. The way you love your husband well. The godly woman you are. The example of stability you provide. And that is what I want for myself. For my husband. For my children. To be able to love my children as you have. To be able to learn more from you in the years to come. To call you and cry to you when I’m hurting and don’t know where God is taking our lives. And to hear once again how God is providing for my family, how much He loves us, and that I can do this.

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You have supported me and loved me well through so much hard. Motherhood has made me face some of my deepest insecurites. I think that is the real challenge of motherhood. It’s not the sleepless nights, or the crying babies. It’s not the time management (or lack thereof) or the cooking and cleaning. It’s not the diapers and the laundry. It’s facing the insecurities you thought were locked deep inside but have suddenly come to light.

One of my deepest insecurities was wrapped up in the name “mama”. As you know, my relationship with my own mom is pretty broken right now. I truly pray that God will one day restore this, but for now it is broken. And for a long time the words “mom”, “mama” and especiallly “mother” put a bad taste in my mouth.

For Christmas right after Eden was born (she was only two months old) my sweet sister-in-law gave Eden and I beautiful, matching engraved jewelry boxes. Hers was inscribed with “Eden” on the top, and mine “mamma”. And I didn’t like mine. (Whitney, if you are reading this, don’t stop yet!!) This is hard, even now, to write and admit. But I didn’t like that mine said “mamma”. Because I had this bad taste in my mouth. Aunt Mary Ann, I remember crying to you at some point about how I just couldn’t handle being called “mama”. I liked “mommy” because it was endearing and sweet. But not “mama”. It is a remarkably difficult thing to be faced with something like this. Babies can’t pronounce “mommy” very early. They start with “mama” because it is easier to say. And I cried about that very idea and not wanting my precious baby to call me that.

And then a few things happened over a little bit of time. I heard your girls, my cousins, just calling you “mama”. It wasn’t negative or anything like that. It just was. And then I heard my hubby calling his mom “mother” (in my mind, the worst). But it wasn’t bad or insulting. He said it endearingly. And this helped to soften my heart. Soften me towards my own mom as well as myself. The first time I heard Eden utter the word “mama” I was elated! I now love to hear her call to “mama”!! And the jewelry box makes me smile at what a sweet gift it is. I love being Mama. What a relief! What a gift of grace and love!

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Mary Ann, you have also taught me how to show myself grace and my family love in my home. The whole reason I started this blog was to journal my misadventures in mommyhood. To share my struggle with cleaning and maintaining a home with others. And you have held my hand, hugged me, and cried with me as I have struggled with this. Just the other day I found myself asking you how you fold laundry! Haha, such a basic skill in life but I need pointers! And you graciously invited me to your home for a laundry lesson. (Seriously, let’s schedule that…)

You have helped me to understand how to better take care of and love Jd. How to pray for him and support him. How to be a godly wife and mother. How to raise my children to think and focus on Christ. How to keep my focus on God when I’m stressed about the dishes in the sink and the pile(s) of laundry on my floor. And you have taught me that I honor God by loving my family well. By providing them with a stable and (relatively) organized home. You have shown me what it means to even have stability in a home. That isn’t something I ever really understood, and never would have understood without my mommies.

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So thank you. Thank you for loving me so well. For loving my family so well. For teaching me what it means to be a woman after God’s own heart. For teaching me how to shepherd my family. For teaching me to respect and love my husband well. For showing me grace and teaching me how to give myself grace when I fall flat on my face.

I love you more than I can ever say. I thank God for the relationship we have built. And I can’t wait for my laundry lesson!

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Mundane Faithfulness