Reminiscing over Family Portraits


Gazing at the portraits on the wall, I see my children, husband, and myself—
Each one matched in clothes and countenance and looking right, as if we all belong.
Still I find it hard to comprehend that to a wife and mother I have grown.
In my eyes I don’t look anything remotely like the mothers I have known.
Is it youth or immaturity that makes me doubt these titles I possess?
Can it be quite simply that I’ve known myself too long to see my own egress?
Maybe the acceptance of the roles is what I fight against within my mind.
No. I took them on quite willingly, so elsewhere I must look to answer find.
Gazing at the portraits once again, I see my children, husband, and myself—
Each one matched in clothes and countenance and looking right, because we all belong.

Written in 2004…

Sometimes I still find it hard to believe that I am a wife and mother. I find myself during the day stepping to the sidelines, watching my interaction with my children and noticing their affection toward me. Then I pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. I love to hear Matthew call me ‘Mother.’ The poem I wrote while waiting for his birth seems prophetic, as I said that he would call me that. But yet it still seems so unreal, after nearly a decade of wifery and more than seven years of motherhood. I wonder if I really belong to this special class of women, but in my heart of hearts I know that I do.

Fast forward thirteen years…

Yesterday was rough. I left the house without breakfast and without a snack in my purse. I couldn’t find my family from where I sat in the choir loft during the morning service. Normally I can pick Bobby out of the crowd because he’s so tall, and he’s fond of wearing his Sunday-go-to-meetin’ coveralls with a neatly-pressed white or plaid shirt. When I couldn’t find him, I assumed he had gone straight to bed when he got home from his overnight job. But no, he was there, and dressed just as casually as you please. Where were his coveralls? For that matter, where was the polo shirt he had worn to work? The least he could have done was keep it on to come to church. But not on Mother’s Day. Today, in his mind, called for a wrinkled, worn-out T-shirt with some message on it which I didn’t bother to read. His disrespect grieved me, but it wasn’t the end of the world.

We left church in our separate vehicles. He arrived home shortly before me, went in through the garage and closed the door. It’s our custom to leave the door open until everyone is home, particularly when we know the others will be home within minutes. Another insult. Again, I brushed it off.

My oldest was away for drill weekend with the Marine Corps, but he texted a “Happy Mother’s Day” wish to me. That was nice, but I missed him. I’m glad he serves his country, even if only part-time, but on this day I wanted him home.

And what of my baby girl? She was making dinner for me, but the frown on her face announced that she wasn’t happy about it, and her attitude did not improve when her dad offered to help her. So even though I got the day off, it didn’t feel as joyful as it might have. Instead, it gave me time to lie down in the solitude of my bedroom and brood over my imperfect world.

As I lay there, I prayed for my children, for my husband, and for myself. There have been many good times, but just now I couldn’t remember them. I only felt the pain of missing my oldest, wondering how to reach my middle, and longing for affection from my youngest.

When dinner was ready, three of us came to the table. Bobby had gone straight to bed after church and gave clear instructions that he did not want to be disturbed until time to go back to work. I understand his need for sleep, but other occasions have seemed important enough for him to stay awake. Not Mother’s Day.

Dinner was delicious. Three times I told Mary Beth how much I liked it, but she never acknowledged my gratitude. Apparently she was still upset about having to cook dinner. Again, she stole a bit of my joy, and that was all the disappointment I could take for one day.

After dinner I cried. In the living room. In the hammock. In the car. In choir practice. In the hall after church…. My family did not see my tears. Always it was just a brief overflow of emotion, a letting off of steam, when I was alone.

A friend observed that I looked tired, and he gave me a hug, encouraging me to not beat myself up over the difficulties our family is facing right now. I’ve been a good mother from what he can see, so he said. The rest is in God’s hands. Our children make choices, choices over which we have no control. They are entering adulthood, and the only thing we can do is pray for them.

I say that as if it were a small thing. A last resort.

It’s not.

My prayers are heard by the God who can change the hearts of my children, the God who loves them more than I do, who desires a relationship with them. I cannot trust my skills as a mother, but I can trust in the living God.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” My husband and I have done that. The rest is in God’s hands. I grieve for what Bobby is going through now, but I maintain hope that my heavenly Father is going to do great things with that young man.

The day ended well. Matthew came home from drill in time for the evening service. I was in choir, so I didn’t see him until I got home; but as I walked in the door, there stood my Marine in the kitchen, with a beautiful Mother’s Day card, a bouquet of flowers and a Wonder Woman gift bag full of chocolates. My daughter, who had grumbled about having to cook dinner now joyfully entered into helping me make a strawberry chocolate cheesecake. (After all, what’s not to like about cheesecake?) And our troubled middle child, Bobby, texted me from work to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day. He finally said it. And I felt whole again.

There are certain things in this life that we can count on:

  1. Life is sometimes going to be wonderful.
  2. Life is sometimes going to be horrible.
  3. Through it all, God is always good.

Photo taken in Chesapeake, Virginia, 2013

7 thoughts on “Reminiscing over Family Portraits

  1. Wow, thanks for sharing your heart in this post. It made tears come to my eyes; maybe because the scene is kinda familiar from time to time 🙂 What a great reminder to me…especially the wonderful way you ended. So true. Thanks again for sharing reality.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, this tugged on my heartstrings! I’m like your friend I have to give a hug to someone that needs one! So, glad Your Mother’s Day turned around. Just like a great ending to a movie. It’s hard to realize that kids grow up and we are lucky if they maintain a tight knit family like we as parents want! Blessings to You Angela!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Reminiscing over Family Portraits | Poet's Corner

A penny for your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s