Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dandelions and Daffodils: A Mother/Daughter Memory of Hope

My four-year-old daughter’s face beams as she hands me a “bouquet” of dandelions. “Put ‘em in you ‘air, Mama.” My sweet girl sure brings smiles to my heart.

But being a mommy of four (six years old and younger) doesn’t always make me smile. It can be a rough adventure—millions of pairs of pee-wee sized underwear to fold, infinite toys to pick up, handfuls of Cheerios to fish from the sofa. And need I mention the mental stress of constantly training those less-than-virtuous attitudes? “Stop screaming at your brother.” “I just told you not to do that.” All together, they create one exhausted mama.

Sometimes I find myself complaining—even whining—about the chores of motherhood. In my darker moments, I long to escape to the time before kids when I could finish the laundry in a couple hours and spend an uninterrupted evening with my husband.

Reflecting on those pre-kid years also invites not-so-happy memories of a year that brought no joy—not a bit. My pastor called it a time of “frowning providence.” I called it the worst year of my life.

Michael and I had been married five years when pregnancy surprised us—we were overjoyed. My mom rejoiced with us, and she and I dreamed I’d have a girl for us to deck out in baby-sized funky fashions. As our little one grew older, I visualized teaching her to rollerblade and inviting church friends to birthday parties. She’d be a considerate teen and then, when she’d experienced just enough life on her own, she’d marry the godly man of her (and my) dreams.

Those dreams crumbled when an ultrasound at ten weeks revealed no heartbeat.
During the heart-wrenching days that followed, my mom comforted me, even though she was fighting a battle of her own …

She was amazing—not only continuing to jig silly dances, sing constantly, and most of all, fill the house with laughter, but also not letting the cancer shake her faith. She’d thank God for the intense pain because it drew her closer to Him. She’d pray for me when I was sad—even though she was the one who was dying.

Mom deteriorated quickly. Soon hospice arrived, and within weeks, mom departed. Bouquets of daffodils decorated the funeral hall. When I see daffodils, I think of her.

As the days and months passed, I felt isolated and lonely, and despite my struggles to contain them, tears flowed.

But then, eventually, came Gabby, and here she is, gifting me with her handful of dandelions. I still miss Mom and the baby I lost, but remembering my pain helps me to be grateful for what I have. And if God’s grace carried me through those dark nights, I know He’ll be with me, holding my hand, giving me strength to pick up millions of underwear, infinite toys, handfuls of Cheerios—and even to train those less-than-virtuous attitudes.

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. Psalm 62:5 (NIV)

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