Jan Alredge-Clanton

Mother's Day, 2018

This Mother’s Day I’m looking at motherhood up close but from a different perspective and new appreciation. Some of this likely has to do with the fact that nowadays I’m doing more mother-associated tasks like taking the lead cooking, grocery shopping, laundering, and hauling boys around (today I’m going to the zoo with the 2nd graders). It has more to do with watching Weslee skillfully and sacrificially mother her three boys. I’m amazed though not surprised one whit.

Her circumstances are not unlike many in the world today. She is a single mom with a full-time job twelve rush-hour miles from our house. More than a year ago she made a very hard decision -- the hardest of her life -- one no one on either side of the equation planned or preferred, but I’m convinced was necessary nonetheless for the long-term well-being of everyone involved.  Gutsy, but good though tough for all involved. Plan B it is and God’s grace is sufficient and abundant for everyone’s new normal.

Weslee leaves before the boys get on the school bus and gets home after they get off. She’s tired, but more times than not is upbeat and over dinner wants to hear the boys’ accounts of their respective days even though many times she will have engaged and managed heavily emotional situations in her job as patient advocate at a cancer treatment facility. Between dinner and the boys’ bedtime, she dedicates her time solely to them because she likes it. At bedtime, she spends “five” minutes in each of the boys’ beds with them but occasionally has absolutely run out of gas and fallen fast asleep right there. One recent Friday night -- a non-school night -- she had been down in the boys’ basement barracks an extra long time so I ventured down to check on them. All four were piled up on one bed in the dark singing and laughing at juvenile made-up lyrics to some song they all knew. It was hilarious and they were having the best time.

“Her time” typically comes in spirts usually in the form of a very early weekday morning several-mile run and on weekends. She treasures a Sunday afternoon nap and an occasional retreat to her “happy place” -- the upper deck that opens into her bedroom.

Far from a push-over (for years I’ve likened her to a junkyard dog), she herds those guys with tender firmness.  Even three sweet boys -- 8, 10, and 13 -- can (and do) create a fair amount of household chaos, but she presides effectively over such and bears by far most of the discipline role allowing me to stay in the Papa role. She’s the disciplinarian, I’m only the enforcer.

She loves spending time and doing things with those boys.  I had an out-of-town Saturday/Sunday engagement a couple of weeks ago. That Saturday I received a phone photo of them all playing in a trickling creek that she explained as a spur-of-the-moment side trip following Thomas’ (8) baseball game. The next day another photo showed up of a Sabbath creek after church during which Andrew (10) had helped two others lead a special song for the early service. The next Sunday afternoon she loaded up their four bicycles and went for a multi-mile ride. She loves hanging out with those growing boys.

Weslee is also a gatherer of people, a budding note-writer, and care-giver leading those efforts in her Sunday School class. She brought awareness, designed and jumped through company hoops to get a T-shirt approved for a run in the St. Jude Music City Marathon two weeks ago.  She’s amazing.

I’ve told many people that as time goes on, Weslee reminds me more and more of Honey. It occurred to me yesterday mowing the yard that Honey quietly showed us how to do many good things well, then “took off” and let us do them. Mothering was one of the best things she showed us. In many ways Weslee is not anything like Honey, but when it comes to the stuff of mothering, she’s the spitting image. (Oh wait, Honey wouldn’t spit!)

Here’s the perfect Celebrating Grace hymn for today:

Like a mother with her children You will comfort us each day,
     giving guidance on our journey, as we seek to find our way.
When we walk through fiery trials, You will help us take a stand; when we pass through
     troubled waters, You hold out Your tender hand.

In Your image You have made us, calling each of us by name,
     giving strength for every challenge as our gifts we fully claim.
We can hear you gently saying, “Do not worry, do not fear;
     for I’ll always go beside you; every moment I am near.”

With Your vision You inspire us, giving each a holy call;
     we will open doors of freedom by Your power in us all.
Life abundant spread before us as with eagle’s wings we soar,
     joining in Your new creation, we rejoice forevermore.

Like a Mother with Her Children – words Jann Aldredge-Clanton, 2000 © 2010, Celebrating Grace, Inc.