Friday, May 12, 2006

Dandelions and Daffodils: A Mother's Day Memory

Today's guest blogger is Ocieanna Fleiss. Ocieanna is a DEAR friend of mine. She's also a brilliant word-smith and she's helped me by reading/editing my novels. I know Ocieanna's words are going to touch your heart as her friendship touches my life.

Dandelions and Daffodils by Ocieanna Fleiss

My three-year-old daughter’s face beams as she hands me her Mother’s Day gift. A “bouquet” of dandelions she picked. “Put ‘em in you ‘air, Mama.” My sweet girl sure brings smiles to my heart.

Being a mommy of three doesn’t always make me smile. It can be a rough adventure sometimes. Millions of pairs of pee-wee sized underwear to fold, infinite toys to pick up, crusty spoons to fish from the sofa—all together, they create one exhausted mama. And need I mention the mental stress of constantly training those less-than-Christlike attitudes? “Stop screaming at your brother.” “I just told you not to do that.”

I must admit (though it may shock you) that 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 when Mother’s Day brought no joy—not a bit of it. 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—and we were overjoyed. I dreamed she’d be a girl and had already visualized her childhood up to her early-adult years. I imagined decking her out in a polka-dotted swim suit and playing baby games together at the pool. As she grew older, I’d teach her to rollerblade and invite church friends to birthday parties. She’d be a kind and considerate teen and graduate with good grades. 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 to dust when an ultrasound at ten weeks revealed no heartbeat.
During the heart-wrenching and desperate days that followed, my mom comforted me, even though she was fighting a battle of her own.

Then, a month later, a bright spot—surgeons told us they had completely removed Mom’s cancer. But, before we knew it, it came back stronger than before. She was amazing, still jigging her silly dances, filling the house with laughter. And my mom’s strong faith encourages me to this day. She’d thank God for the cancer 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. She taught me how to live.

She deteriorated quickly and was soon bed-bound. Hospice arrived, and within weeks, mom departed. Bouquets of daffodils decorated the funeral hall. Every time I see daffodils, I think of her.

As Mother’s Day approached, I dreaded it. On that Sunday, I sat in church watching women my age with their little ones. Some sat next to their moms—grandmas to give support. I knew they’d spend the afternoon being pampered and appreciated. 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 on Mother’s Day 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. If God’s grace carried me through those dark nights, I know He’ll give me strength to make it through a day of screaming toddlers and crusty spoons. My calling to be a mom is never easy, but He’s with me, holding my hand, letting me know I’m doing a good job. Mother’s Day reminds me that even though it’s often frustrating and exhausting, motherhood is a treasured gift.


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