Friday, January 10, 2014

Once a Mother, Always a Mother

When I watched the long-awaited first episode of Season 4 of "Downton Abbey" the other night (hey, have you heard of this show--ha ha!), I really pitied Isobel Crawley when she talked about how lost she was in the wake of her son Matthew's death.  She said something along the lines of, "You see, when you're a mother and your only child dies, then you're not a mother anymore.  You're nothing.  And I'm having trouble getting used to that."

Wrong, Isobel.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  I feel so incredibly sorry for you (and I'm so bummed that Matthew is off the show!); but you are still wrong.  Because once a mother, always a mother.  You can't hug and kiss him anymore, Mrs. Crawley, and you'll miss him all the days of your life; but his soul lives on, and the love between a mother and son survives even death.

I have been struggling myself the past few years, trying to get used to the idea that the caretaking part of my mothering job is coming to an end.  I have always been a stay-at-home mom, happiest when I'm feathering my nest and feeding the chicks in it.  But the time came when they started to fly the coop, one by one, first leaving for college, and then heading out into the working world.  Now two of my boys are married and a third will be tying the knot in February.   My youngest son will become an official adult when he celebrates his 21st birthday in a few weeks.  When he graduates from the University of Notre Dame in May of 2015, my career--my life's work--will be completed.

Or will it?  Does a mother ever stop worrying about her children--and doing whatever she can for them--no matter how old they get?

No, she doesn't.  I know this from experience now.

Moms, don't listen to Isabel.  She'll always be Matthew's mother.  I know that even if God had only blessed me with one son, instead of five (my cup runneth over!), and that son had preceded me to Heaven, I would still be a mother.

There are wonderful moments in store for you, mothers of young children.  They will become independent, they will move away, they will start families of their own.  But there will be incredibly joyful experiences to enjoy with them in the future, such as mother-son dances (like this one with my firstborn son at his wedding in 2009), where you will shed tears of joy while dancing in the arms of the little boy you raised, the man who has become a husband to a new daughter.

There will still be heart-melting hugs and kisses like this (from son #2, who was the best man at his older brother's wedding).
It's bittersweet, seeing them grow up.  Believe me, there are moments when I look back at the days when my husband and I had five little boys living under our roof and eating dinner with us every night, when our home was filled with noise and chaos and laughter, and my heart feels heavy with the weight of missing their constant presence in our lives.  The walls of our home are plastered with pictures of their beloved faces.
But if they'd never grown up, I wouldn't have the joy of knowing them as the amazing men they are today.

If they'd never grown up, I wouldn't have had the chance to become a grandmother--and now that I have three absolutely precious little granddaughters, I can't imagine my life without them in it.
So now I'll not only be forever a mother; I'll be forever a grandmother, too (lucky me!).


  1. Love this! And a great mom you are!

  2. Sweet adorable blog today. I started crying during that part of Downton Abbey. Such a tough moment for her character.

  3. Loved this! So happy to be part of the club. So sweet.

  4. This is beautiful! I've never actually watched the show (we don't have cable), but I did hear someone reference that quote and I thought it seemed a little off. Blessings!

    ~ Country Girl's Daybook
    Recently posted: Get your backpacks ready... Some essentials for the March for Life:

  5. So very true! I know that Isobel's comment was spoken out of sorrow--and what struck me as weirdest of all was that she didn't even seem to consider that she has a grandson. Beautifully said.

  6. I just want to say thank you to all of you nice people who commented on this post! I was out of town for the weekend (and out of internet service for much of it), so I didn't get around to responding. I love hearing from you!

  7. OK, Laura, I'm bawling now! That was so very beautiful!
    I love your pictures on your fun to see your young growing family and then all the boys grown up in that black and white one!

    When Mrs Crawly said that, oh, it pulled, I'm sure, all mother's heart strings. The loss she is going through. (I know, it's just a show!)

    1. I'm sorry I made you cry, Jamie Jo! My eyes (and my husband's, too) leak pretty easily these days, too. We love these boys so much...and now they're brining us girls to love as well, and little grandchildren who are the best possible gift there is...our hearts feel very full these days.