Some things are eternal.
Once you come into existance, you will always exist. Each person from the moment of conception is eternal however long they last in this life. Then there are roles that once begun can never end; the priesthood-once ordianed a priest is a priest forever; and parenthood, once a parent, always a parent. I will always be my children’s mother for ever, no matter what. That includes being mother to the children I conceived but never got to hold.
You can never give up being a mother or a father. From the first moment of conception there is a mother and father and they will remain that child’s mother or father from that moment and through eternity. Marriage is temporary, it ends at death-but not parenthood. If a child dies, whether before or after birth, they remain your child, even when they are with God. So when your mother (or father) dies she is still your mother and in her new place can pray for her children.
But being a parent isn’t simply something you are, it’s something you do. Presuming the child you conceive lives long enough to get born, then you begin the doing side of parenting.
How you fulfil your role will change as the years pass, but there will always need to be plenty of love to hand around. Donna and I talked about children growing up and learning to make their own decisions about life. We talked about the early years where we set the boundaries and gave them space to learn and to understand right and wrong and how we can only hope that as they make their own decisions as they get older, that the foundations are strong enough. We teach them how to fly away, but always keep the nest warm I guess. We wondered about how we support them as mums and how to help them forgive us when we don’t get it right. There are choices to be made as a mum or dad and those choices are essentially about how good a parent you are prepared to be.
You may remember I wrote some time ago that Donna had been criticised by some friends of hers for laying down some ground rules for her older daughter in her relationship with Alex, and she was teased for going out with them sometimes. She had a good laugh with both Alex and her daughter and sometimes we all went out together.
I told her that a mother was irresplacable in many ways and being a mum is very different from being a dad I think. Certainly those of us who don’t have mothers who are here for us can find someone else, as I did with Sr Kath, but it is rare for a child to find someone else who can be a real ‘mum’ to them. Sr Kath has been amazing as my ‘mum’ and has seen me through all the business of growing up as she has been there since I was 15/16 years old, but I never lived with her as children do with their mother.
We had talked a few times about how best to support Alex and MC as they built their relationship with one another, and we would joke about how to be mother-in-laws together; badly behaved ones. All I can say is BE THERE for your children mothers, because you never know when they might truly need you. You might think that once they have reached the age of 13, 16, 18 or whatever the magic “I-can-leave-’em-to-it” age you might have in your head, but you never know when they will need someone’s shoulder to cry on. Believe me, if you don’t have a strong relationship when a crisis hits I can’t see how they will ever turn to you and how they will get support.
All that stuff Jesus says about the final Judgement where God will essentially see whether you fed the hungry, clothed the naked, took care of the sick, visited those in prison, gave a cuppa to the thirsty; sounds like being a mum to me. Let’s face it, if we can’t do that for our own children we wont get far with anyone else’s will we? And just in case you are thinking, God forbid I ever have to visit my kids in prison; remember there is more than one kind of prison. A couple of the mums are members of the NCT and come across plenty of young mothers who get stuck at home with no support. In fact we have a plan afoot to try and get a support from started near here. while in the past daughters could rely on their mother or aunts to be there for them when they had a baby, that simply isn’t the case for so many mothers these days. There are lots of girls entering motherhood without their mother these days either because she has died or is too ill, or sadly, far too commonly, because she is too busy doing her own thing to care.
But then I think being a parent means being open to new members of the family. We will be there for Donna’s girls-but I am more than a little aware that I can never be mother to them, because I am not their mum; Donna is still their mother and always will be; but I will do my best to at least mitigate some of their loss. Pray for us trying to do this.
Sorry this is a bit rambly-but I think I’ll post it like this anyway.