On my bedside table sits a beautiful tealight candle holder, inscribed with the words ‘Some people live their whole life through and never find a friend like you’. It’s a gift given to me by my best friend, El, but the words are just as true from me to her.
This Mother’s Day, instead of a post about my mom (which I’ve done before), I want to write a tribute to El. As a young mother with a lot on her plate, she deserves a little time in the limelight ;)
Firstly, the best thing about my friend is that she’s also my sister in Christ. Despite some very difficult situations she’s had to deal with, she loves the Lord and is always willing to let Him lead her life. She’s been a good example to me in the persistence of her faith; often when I’m all worried or worked up about the way things seem to be playing out, El’s trusting attitude is a reminder that I’m not in control anyway: the Lord is.
Secondly, El is a gem of a friend. No matter what I’m going through, she’s always been interested and supportive and involved. When I got all excited about getting new pet ratties, she went hunting for the perfect rodent-themed receiver blanket. When the eczema started bothering me, she showered me with books, meds and ideas to try to help me heal. When we moved house, she jumped at the chance to help me clean our old flat before we left. Do you have any friends like that? They’re a rare find, aren’t they? :)
Another thing I love about El is how much fun we have together. Whether it’s sharing a family picnic, planning a Valentine’s dinner, colouring our hair, swapping books and movies, throwing a Minnie Mouse party, indulging in KFC Krushers, running a race together or having a sleepover party, you can bet we’ll always find a way to make each other laugh. It’s a blessing to be able to share both the good times and the bad with a true friend.
‘OK,’ I hear you say, ‘but what does this have to do with Mother’s Day?’
Well, as the mom of two beautiful girls, El is also the person who’s taught me more than anyone else about what it takes to be a mom. She and her hubby were the first of our friends to start having children, and I’ve learnt a lot just from watching her handle the challenges that parenting brings. The great thing about El is that even though Ninja and I have no kids (and no plans to change that anytime soon), she’s never let our friendship fade just because we don’t have motherhood in common.
For some reason I’ve always run contrary to my girl friends in that motherhood has never been a goal for me, and I’m thankful that El has accepted that fact instead of trying to change me. Yet I can see that the Lord has used El in my life to mature my feelings about kids. Where previously I was terrified of the responsibility that motherhood represents, now I know that by God’s grace I’d be able to survive it and even enjoy it, if it were ever my lot in life. And if I did fall pregnant my first call would be to my sister El, knowing she’d calm me down and walk that path with me with just the right mix of humour and empathy :P
From El’s experiences I’ve learnt that it’s normal for parents to be more strict with their firstborns and more relaxed with the kids that follow (phew! as the firstborn in my family, I’d always wondered if it was just me…!). I’ve finally understood why new mothers can often talk of little else when their days are consumed with meeting their children’s needs. I’ve seen that adding babies to a marriage has the equal potential to strengthen or weaken the couple, depending on how they handle the changes. And I’ve discovered that children are just as precious as they are expensive; they’re just as adorable as they are difficult.
Watching El, I’ve learnt that mothers are heroes, surviving months of sleepless nights with a smile and cleaning unmentionable things from unmentionable orifices without losing a shred of dignity. I’ve seen that young mothers need support: they need husbands who share the load and parents who take the kids for a while. They need churches who understand if they can’t make it to every service and counsellors who will prayerfully encourage them.
Young mothers sometimes just need snippets of Scripture to uplift them when they don’t have time for drawn-out Bible studies. They need relatives who can help raise their kids right and friends who can remind them that they’re not the sum of their mothering failures (or triumphs!). Above all, they need a God who gives abundant grace when they struggle and fail, especially with those wide eyes and impressionable little minds all around them.
This Mother’s Day, I celebrate my friend El and the lessons she’s unwittingly taught me as she’s learnt to parent her girls. She’d be the first to admit that it’s not an easy road, but it’s a worthwhile journey anyway. I’ve been blessed to be part of it from the sidelines, and whether or not I ever experience motherhood myself, I can definitely say I enjoy being an aunty ;)
And finally, to mothers everywhere: Your role is unique and your responsibility enormous. Thank you for what you do. I salute you!
Have a lovely Mother’s Day :)