I find it so appropriate that this picture came up in my Facebook memory feed this week. It is hard to believe that this was so many years ago. He was so little. This was a moment in my single mom days (which were some of the most difficult days and years of my life) where my little Calvin was not sharing. I took the opportunity to guide and instruct my child. I wanted to give him the tools and techniques to appropriately and lovingly deal with the situation. Even in that time, (of being so far from God) my parents had instilled in me such a godly foundation, I remember instructing him according to the Word. It was not perfectly according to the Word but I mustered up whatever instruction I could recall my parents giving me in my time of not sharing as a child. I look back on that time now, and I am so very thankful that even in my time of pushing Him away, God supplied wisdom. He dug into the depths of me and pulled out the tools and techniques parents put in me.
The past three days, I have been working very hard on sewing my first dress from a pattern I purchased. What I had envisioned and what I created where nowhere near the same. I had envisioned finishing the last stitch and holding up to see something similar to what my master seamstress of a mother had created. It was not. My disappointment was overwhelming. Because I knew the techniques for sewing pillows, clutch purses, hand bags and other things, I thought I could sew a dress.
In that moment, I would have given anything to pick up the phone and call her to receive her guidance and direction on where I had gone wrong with the pattern. I would have asked what techniques and tools I was missing. But I couldn’t. There is a strong chance she would not have the answer now, let alone know who I am. There was a time when my mom sewed almost every dress I wore as a child. They were beautiful. She made dresses for all five of her girls. Nine times out of ten at least two out of the five of us matched or wore the same dresses.
For my sister’s wedding, she made her beautiful wedding dress with amazingly insane bead detail, in addition to some of the difficult bridesmaids dresses. Then in the same summer, she made around 4 more bridesmaids dresses for my other sister’s wedding. She was an amazing seamstress.
Although my mom is not physically gone, there is a part of me that has begun mourning her. As I watch this horrible disease (Alzheimers) take over the mind of my amazingly creative and wise Momma, it has brought me to some realizations I wish I would have reached earlier on in life. I have always said, I have no regrets because all the extremely difficult things that I have walked out have built character and brought me running back to the arms of my amazing and loving God. Although today, as hard as this is for me to admit, I have realized I do have one regret. That regret is not savoring every moment, every word, every bit of guidance, correction and instruction from my parents. There were times when I thought my parents were being foolish and stupid to the ways of the world. I thought because my parents tried to instruct me in a godly manner with a foundation in the Word of God, that they did not know the things I was facing in my life and the world. There were times when I thought I did not need the tools and techniques they were trying to give me. Oh, what I would give to call my mom and dad to just talk, just to get their input and guidance. Now that I am in seminary, I would give anything just to call my dad to discuss and dissect the Word of God, family, and life, like he tried so many times to do with me and I just did not care enough. Now that I am married to the most amazing man on the planet, what I would give to receive my mom’s guidance and instruction on how to be the amazingly wise and godly wife like she was. If I called her today, I would have to remind her of who I was time and time again before even getting a question. I would have to reassure her that it was ok that she didn’t know I was her daughter. I would have to tell her where I live at the very least 15 times in the conversation, before ever asking her advice. Then once we would establish who I was and where I lived now, the vicious cycle would start all over again. All the while, my heart aching to hear her wisdom, instruction or just her comforting words I know she would give if she had control of her mind and memory.
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:20-21
As difficult as this season is, there is an amazing and incredible aspect about all of this. TIMING. The timing of all of this is amazing to me. It’s how God knew when I would need these tools and techniques in my parenthood and wifehood. To paraphrase my brother-in-law (from a discussion we were having about parenting to a teenage (almost adult) who is not receiving direction from me well), “You are entering season of being the ‘stupid parents.” At first I was taken back by that statement. I had to go home think about it and process it. He was right, we are. As much as I don’t want to admit it, we are in the season of being “the stupid parents.” I am the stupid mom this season. My son…the same one in that picture, is now 17 years old. He will graduate this year, hopefully early. Since we have made the huge shift of moving to a total different state, he has struggled in receiving the instruction, guidance, tools and technique I have tried to give him. He has been blessed with some amazing opportunities here that most 17 years, not to mention most adults, would never get the opportunity to do. He has wanted to make this transition on his own and in his own way and as much as I would want to give him the freedom, he is not quite ready. I feel such an urgency to squeeze the last bit of knowledge I have for him before he goes into the world. Of course as a parent, I want to pass on what I did retain from my parents and spare him the pain of what I had to learn on my own, the difficult way.
This morning before he headed to his awesome new job, I sat down with him and explained “the dress” to him. I explained how even at the age of 39 year old, I thought I had the tools and techniques I needed to make the dress and to make it with excellence. But I had to admit to him, I did not. I had to admit to him that I did not listen to my mom the multiple times she tried to show me the techniques of sewing clothing. I thought since I had sewn a pillow, I knew how to sew a dress. I pointed out, yes, I know how to sew but sewing a dress is not the same as sewing a hand bag. I may not have had to ask my mom for direction on how to sew a pillow or a hand bag and I may have figured out on my own, with the tools I did take from her instruction, but there was more to her instruction that I missed. If I would have listened to the whole instruction. If I would have received all that she had for me, maybe I would not have waisted the material, the thread or my time and efforts. Maybe I would have the technique I needed to sew the dress well.
This “stupid” dress I sewed, allowed this “stupid” parent the opportunity to ask her son to find a balance in receiving my guidance, my instruction and my words, so that as his mother I might spare him from the some of the regret and remorse that might come from time and effort waisted. In that brief opportunity, I looked up at him, through my tears and he saw my pain, he saw my urgency, he understood what I was trying to say. He stopped me and said with a sweet voice “I am trying to find that balance mom. I love you.”
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14-17
Just as I have with parenting him, I put my heart and soul into this “stupid” dress and it may not have turned out like I thought it would but I love it. Just as my son is, the dress is a beautiful reminder of the tools and techniques mom made such a huge effort to engrain in me. I guess in that sense, the dress is kind of like a metaphor for parenthood. Just as I will continue to sew on the dress to improve it, I will continue to sew into the lives of my children. I will watch my children go through life and praying they heard me. Each prayer, will be a stitch into in the fabric of their life. I will continue praying that they will take the tools and techniques this “stupid” mom has passed on to them and hold tight to the foundation I worked so hard to lay for them. Because just as mom wanted for me, in the end, I want them to say, I have no regrets.