In December our church choir performed a beautiful Christmas program during our sacrament meeting hour. My sweet Nicole sang a solo of the First Noel. I was so proud of her and felt so much love for her. Now mind you, her singing really has nothing to do with my motherhood, more of her father's training, persistence and encouragement, but she is still my daughter and I felt so happy that she is using her talents to bless the lives of others. But, as I looked up into the choir I saw her standing with some very sweet ten and eleven year old girls who would not be up there courageous and singing their tender hearts out if Nicole had not encouraged, invited and supported them. I also watched as a group of 10 and 11 year old boys sang the closing musical number as she led them and felt amazement that she could elicit such beauty from these boys. In the choir and in front of me I also saw my dear husband, my sweet son Richie and my oldest girl Rochelle. I felt such joy that I don't believe I could ever feel from a career or from teaching college which was my goal that was interrupted.
I also watched this Christmas season as a sweet young man with Down Syndrome came to our home to see Rochelle. She has worked with him for a few years. I saw the love she has for him and the love he has for her. I reflected on all of the special needs children that Rochelle has loved and cared for over the past seven years and of the love and support she has for her Uncle Carl who is autistic. I see their lives changed from her goodness and I feel such joy in my success as a mother to help raise such an amazing child. Everywhere we go people stop her and tell her that she has an amazing smile, that they noticed her on a flight, that she is the most beautiful person around. Her goodness shines through her smile and just receiving that smile lightens everyone's day. I am her mother and gratefully so!
Maddie, Josh and Carter came for Christmas. They spearheaded the kids installing a beautiful laminate wood floor in our bedroom and bathroom. When I came home from work the Thursday before Christmas I heard laughing and pounding and cooperation as they worked together with their Uncle Brian and cousin Olivia to give us this gift. They worked hard and long to complete this. I again felt amazement and joy in having raised my children and the choice that Maddie made to marry Josh who astonishes me regularly with his giving, hard working nature as well as his love and efforts to be a great husband and father as well as brother, son, son in law and brother in law. I was happy to have raised a daughter who married one as righteous as Josh. Having a grandson is a totally different joy for which I am so grateful for in my life. To watch Maddie and Josh work hard to provide a loving, nurturing environment for him brings me joy in motherhood.
I was only blessed with one son to raise and this past year has had some challenges, but I see his goodness emerging daily. I feel his desire to be good and to find himself and to love others and help them along the way. Richie grew his hair pretty long and to be honest I didn't like it most of the time. Once in awhile when it was a certain way I actually did like it. He asked me why I didn't ask him to cut it or complain much about it. I told him I loved him much more than I didn't like his hair. It's true. But, he sacrificed those luscious locks as a gift for me for Christmas. For a week he told me he wanted to take me somewhere for Christmas. I thought it was perhaps a breakfast or a movie or something. It was very sweet and brought me to tears when he took me to his friend's salon and she cut his hair to the style I used to comb his hair as a child! Again, such joy in my career of motherhood. He is a helpful, kind soul and is loved by all who know him. He can crack a joke or make anyone smile, especially me. I am so blessed God gave me this son to mother.
Then my most challenging child is serving a mission. For 17 years I wasn't sure if this girl would graduate from high school, stay active in church, ever go to college and certainly I NEVER thought she would serve a mission. Her father gets credit for being consistent and calm with her through her most difficult times. I get credit for staying by her side, listening to her endless complaints and whining, and helping her fight through social injustices. But, a dear friend gets credit for encouraging and inspiring her to find out what she can do. Carly herself gets credit for doing that, for realizing she could be successful, for focusing in her senior year with straight A's, for doing well on her ACT, for getting into college and succeeding there and receiving a scholarship for her efforts. She gets credit for preparing to serve a mission and working hard to do that. With Asperger's her whole life centered on her and we perhaps enabled some of that, but through the efforts of many she was able to complete a year of college, and now has less than four months left of her mission. The most amazing blessing from this time of service is that without us telling her a hundred thousand times, she has come to realize she is not the center of the universe. She has realized others have needs and that she can help facilitate fulfillment of those needs. It has brought her joy. It has brought me some shock and great joy.
Why God allowed me to be a mother to these five amazing children is beyond me, but He did and I am so grateful. Through prayer, hard work, persistence and love I have found success and joy in motherhood. It is my career and my joy and I will be forever grateful.