Friday, March 09, 2007


I've been thinking a lot this week about the places I hold in my family. Because of the current season of my life, I am frequently caught up in my role as mother. All of my other roles seem to get only cursory attention. That's probably as it should be.

But I've been looking through old pictures and just loving being part of my family as a whole. It's good to feel the warmth of being not only a mother, but a daughter and a sister and a granddaughter. I am a niece and cousin, a sister-in-law, an aunt, grandmother to my future grandchildren.

I've especially been thinking about my parents this week. I am finishing a project for my Dad's 50th birthday, scanning pictures of our family through the years. They were so young when they got married. My mom was 20. My Dad was 18.

One picture especially caught my eye. We were on vacation in Park City, Utah. My mom was about my age. And I looked into her eyes, really looked. I realized something that I've never really understood before. Just like me, she loved her children fiercely and always did her best as our mother. And just like me, she had absolutely no idea if she was doing it right. She probably felt the same feelings of doubt and guilt, of joy and laughter. And it made me realize what a good woman she is, that my mom is the kind of person I would have been friends with had we been the same age. Which is not to say that we're not friends now, just that peer friendships are somewhat different than mother/daughter friendships. And I think I would enjoy being her friend either way.

I also realized how quickly my parents had to grow up. My mom lost her mother when she was eleven years old. My dad lost his parents when he was less than 2 years old. And my mother was my age when her father collapsed in our backyard and died later that day. My age. 29. So young to be without parents.

I really don't know what I'd do without my parents. They are an amazing support for me and for my children. They help us in so many ways and do so much for us. On top of that, they are such a huge emotional support. Their love is a constant beacon and has been a constant guide in my life.

Then, there's my sister. She's just started dating a wonderful person and is so excited about him. And I realized this week that my relationship with my best friend may change somewhat over the next little while. I am absolutely thrilled for her, crossing my fingers and hoping it will work out. But still a teeny bit sad for me as I look at what may be the end of an era in our relationship, selfish as that may be.

I've also been thinking a great deal about my grandparents lately. My father's parents, who were murdered in 1958, taken far too soon. My mother's mother, who was mother and safe haven to her children and every other child in the neighborhood. My Grandpa M, who was stubborn and gruff and sweet all at once, who carried small green tins of M&Ms and mints to share with his grandchildren. My spunky great-grandma who gave birth to 11 children and raised most of them by herself after her husband died and then raised my dad and his brother. She out-lived most of her children and out-ran young adults in her nineties. Then there was my Great Aunt, who also raised my dad. She made delicious peanut brittle, burned cookies, dried apricots and raised parakeets.

It's interesting to find that, as you get older, you really start to think about the people you love and who have loved you. Not to think as much about how they affect you or what you need from them. You start more to think about THEM -- who they are, how they've lived, how life has shaped them, how they've handled both joy and pain.

And as I think about my family, I am simply honored to be among them. There is imperfection, certainly. Fumbling. But so much love, so much strength and generosity, kindness and faith. I am amazed by how my family has handled adversity, how my parents especially have opened through grief and pain and allowed it to make them more gentle, more kind and forgiving of others.

It is a blessed thing to be part of a family.

And now, as I look into my parents eyes as they were young and stumbling through parenthood I feel both comforted and called to be better than I am. For this moment, I am able to glimpse my space on this continuum. I see all of the women who have stood in precisely the place I inhabit right now and my space feels so much wider, bigger and at once so small.

I am mother to my children. Daughter to two wonderful parents. Sister and sister-in-law to some of the best people on earth. Granddaughter. Aunt. Niece. Future Grandmother.

I wish so much to spread my arms wide to embrace the immensity of all that I am, to touch and bless all who stand before and after me in just the way I have been blessed.

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