She doesn’t know it, but the note she sent me stays by my kitchen sink. She doesn’t know it, but I’m still thinking about what she said to me on the phone today. She doesn’t know it, but I still desperately need her.
I need her words.
She lives 93 miles from me. But today when we were on the phone, and I sat in the parking lot of the grocery store and talked to her, and told her what the doctor said, and all the worst-case-scenarios I could think of—I didn’t feel like she was 93 miles away. I felt like she was right there.
She listened, and I could feel her nodding, I could feel her smiling. I could feel her coming through the phone and wrapping her arms around me, the way she did when I was little. When I would sit on her lap and lay against her chest, and I would press my face into her hair, and breathe in her scent. And I’d play with her watch, and make the time stop, and she’d let me take off her rings and put them on my fingers. And I always asked her again what each one meant. The diamond was for when Dad proposed, and the plain silver one, was the one Dad gave her on their wedding day. And the blue one, the star sapphire, he gave her just because he was in love. With her. And that one was my favorite, because it had a hidden beauty. When you held it just right in pure sunlight, a sharp white star appeared. And not many people could see it, but when I sat on Mom’s lap and slid her rings loosely on my fingers, I could see it. And when I did, I was in awe of the beauty. The secret beauty.
I have heard so many people say they don’t want to be like their mother.
But I just want to say: I want to be like mine.
More than ever.
Not because she was perfect. But because she was there. Always.
Mom was smart, and talented, and beautiful, and could have easily had a full-blown, successful career. But she gave up everything to stay home with us five kids. Because my parents believed something: that moms should be with their babies. And babies should be with their moms. And so, we shared rooms, we pinched pennies, we shopped at Gabriel Brothers, and always ordered water with lemon when we went to restaurants, (which were only rare and cherished celebrations.)
Mom would pack our school lunches, and dump the money out of her birthday cards just to take us shopping, and make us homemade pizza and birthday cakes. She’d fill the whole house with the sweetest aroma. And some mornings, we’d wake up to it, and run down the steps to find her in the kitchen. Baking away. With flour in her hair. And on her hands. And on her jeans.
And in those moments, she never looked more beautiful.
We’d come into the kitchen and she’d hug us so close that our cheeks touched, and the flour would spread from her cheeks, to ours. And sometimes we’d come down the steps in clusters and she’d just hug us all at once, and say, “I may not be rich in the world’s eyes—but I’m rich in my kids.”
And we always laughed when she said this, because, it was just a funny statement. But deep down, I knew she meant it. Because I saw it all over her face. I saw it in the flour on her jeans. The smile behind the glow of the candles on our birthday cakes. The scribbled notes in our lunches. The glorious Christmas mornings she and Dad stayed up all night to make special for us.
I saw it in her life. In the way she refused to let anything separate us from her. To let anything steal her motherhood. To steal her greatest treasure and joy. Her kids.
Mom sold homemade pies from her car when we were little—just to keep us together.
Because she believed in being a mom. No matter what the cost. And it did cost. I don’t know how women looked at her. I don’t know what comments the cashiers might have said. I don’t know what the bank tellers might have thought as they looked at our statements. But Mom never told us what we cost her.
She only ever told us—that we were her greatest treasure. Her riches. And her wealth. And in her eyes, this couldn’t compare to anything else.
We may not have had the latest tennis shoes, or the best clothing, or the most extravagant family vacations—but we had her.
And she had us.
And in the end, that’s all that really matters.
All the money in the world. All the riches, all the jewels. All the grand houses, and clothes, and cars—cannot compare with the treasure of having a mom who is there.
And if my mom taught me anything, it was something she taught me with her own life: Be there. Be a mom. Don’t let anyone steal this great joy from you. Because the world wages war against motherhood. And you have to fight back. You have to fight for it.
There will always be more money to be made. There will always be a better identity to be achieved. There will always be a better name to be made for yourself. There will always be more ministries to invest in. But your kids are with you for such a very short season. And then, they are gone. And they are precious treasure. To be discovered, and enjoyed.
I always used to laugh when Mom said she was “rich” in us kids. But now, as a mom myself. I am beginning to unfold this mystery. There is a different kind of wealth, that this world cannot know, nor can it offer. It is the hidden wealth of being a mom. Of discovering the treasure. Of obtaining the richness of love in your children. And letting them find it in you.
There is something so secret here. So sacred. A hidden beauty—just like the star in Mom’s star sapphire ring. It only shone in the purest light. Very few ever saw it, and yet it was there all the same. This secret beauty. That could only be witnessed by a little girl, who was allowed to sit on her lap, and play with her watch, and make the time stop. Who took off her rings, and and searched and waited for the bright star to appear–in her ring. And in her eyes. And in her love.
And I found it, Mom. I found the treasure. She is two-years-old, and wakes up with wild blonde bedhead each morning. And she is more full of life than anyone I know. And when I look into her blue eyes, gazing into mine, sometimes I swear that star appears. And the beauty catches in my throat. And it’s unlike anything I ever dreamed.
I found the treasure, Mom. And you were right. The world doesn’t see it, the world doesn’t know it. But I’m finding it, Mom. I’m finding it right here in the secret places. This hidden beauty, where no one sees. When my daughter now sits on my lap, and breathes in my scent. And makes time stop. And searches for the star in my ring. And in my eyes.
You have shown us, Mom, the secret beauty of being a mom. And what real treasure is made of.
Thank you for giving us yourself.
All of you.
Maybe you weren’t rich in the world’s eyes, but you were rich in us kids. And because you were rich in us, you made us rich, so very rich,
And we rise up, and call you blessed. (Proverbs 31:26)