She tucked my ears in.
I looked in the mirror the other night to notice how my ears are seemingly pasted flat to the side of my head. Then I remembered. She used to come in when we were in the cribs and then in our beds as young children. She made sure we were covered and that our ears were tucked in.
Who would think of that . . . except a mother?
I never remember a time when we were not the most important people in her life. If you asked her if she sacrificed for us, she would have no memory of it. I remember the few tattered, faded dresses and the new clothes that we always seemed to wear to school. I remember her carrying a slop pail to an outhouse because we had no indoor plumbing and a thousand other demeaning practices that she did to try to make life better for me. Life was about falling out of love with herself and falling more in love with her kids.
Somewhere along the line she forgot how to love herself. She wasn’t concerned with what her life was to mean but what our lives were to mean. To this day she has no idea how to love herself. When we left there was my stepfather to love and her own aging mother. She’ll be 74 in December. Sometimes she annoys me a bit because she worries over me still as though I were still a teenager. I remind myself that she has overearned the right to do so. I am in the same process with my wife and my kids. I am discovering that I have lived much of my life more in love with me than others.
God has helped me in my journey as I have fallen more in love with Him. His matchless, unendling love has confounded and overcome me. As I have been captivated, I have been freed from my self and I am a student again, falling out of love with me, in love with Him, in love with my family. I am asking myself less what my life is to mean and asking myself more what the lives of my loved ones are to mean.
I heard a man talking about interviewing Mother Theresa in the latter years of her life. He was complimenting her on the incredible ministry that she was having to people that no one else cared about. He asked her how the ministry could outlive her and what preparations she had made to that end. Her all too typical answer, “That’s God’s business not mine.”
She was simply another Mother who had forgotten how to love herself.