My Mom

This past weekend we celebrated my mom’s 61st birthday.  I’ve been thinking about her a lot lately, now that I am a mother of three.  She also had three kids and my mom was my inspiration in becoming a stay-at-home mom.  Now that I’m on the other side of it, I understand that motherhood is not easy – some of the days are crazy hard and I realize how exhausted my mother must have been.  But growing up I just remember her loving being a mom! She really did make our childhood magical and I just always remember her being there.

As I look back on my life now, I can still sense the feeling of comfort I got simply from my mom’s constant presence.  When I had hard days at school or with friends I remember looking forward to going home just to be with my mom.  She always made me feel better.

I also remember the example she set for me of serving the community and loving those around us.  I remember her volunteering at local shelters.  I remember her starting what she called “Bread Ministry” at our church, as a way to care for new people.  She organized for different church members to bake homemade bread each week to give to people visiting the church.  It served as a comforting welcome gift and an opportunity to pray for them.

Another example that really stands out to me is when she and my dad started “Make a Difference Club” at my Middle school.  My parents had a vision for ministering to students that were frequently in detention.  So instead of these students just sitting at a desk after school, my parents came in and took these students outside to plant flowers, mulch, and beautify the school.  Of course the school approved of it, because it benefited them at no cost. I joined them in doing it and I just remember beaming with pride over my mom and dad.  The students LOVED my parents, which made my heart swell.  And every morning when I would get dropped off at school I would see the beautiful new flowers and mulch surrounding the school and think, “we did that!”

I’ve told Jordan that one day I would love to continue this legacy in our children’s schools, if possible :).

My parents in their early years. #goals.

So since my blog is mostly dedicated to processing motherhood, in honor of my mom’s birthday I wanted to share some of her life and story with my readers!  I asked her some questions about her story and her life as a mom, and I’m sharing her answers below.  I hope you enjoy getting to know this beautiful and strong woman :).

Did you always know you wanted to be a mother?
I think I’ve always loved kids. I did a lot of babysitting in high school.  I knew that I’d love to have m own kids, but I wasn’t sure if I’d have the skills to parent.  My parents were divorced when I was age 4, and my mother worked full time – 6 days per week. My husband and I would say we wanted 10 kids, but then 3 seemed to be adequate with his busy work schedule.
(^ insert me, Krystal, trying to imagine having 9 other siblings! Hahahaha)
Were there people you looked up to or examples you followed as a mom?
Yes, my Aunt Lois was a woman I admired.  She had 6 girls, a loving marriage, she was a stay-at-home mom, and her house always felt clean and comforting.  She always had a smile on her face, and never said an unkind word.  She was a loving woman of faith.  My own mother was the complete opposite, so she intrigued me at a young age.  I wanted a family like hers.
Were there parts of motherhood that were unexpected for you?
I didn’t know what I was going to face and what I was getting into, since I had a mother who was not present.  My mom was a single mother who had to work all the time and never seemed to have enough time or energy for her 5 kids, so I didn’t have much of a relationship with her. Staying home with my children was something I wanted to do, so that I could be more available and involved with them.
I don’t think I realized how protective I’d be over my own kids.  I took my work as a mother seriously, and wanted to make sure they were not misguided or not listened to by teachers, friendships, church people,etc.
I also loved the unconditional love my children gave and I know I needed.  This was all new for me, and I cherished it.  I have 3 beautiful and inspiring children.
What were your favorite ages/years of your kids lives?
I loved the baby years for sure. In fact, I think I enjoyed watching the growth of my children every year!  Out of my 3 kids, Robbie was probably the one who got the least of my attention as an infant/toddler, unfortunately.  I was going through 3 years of surgeries and recovery with breast cancer.  I had no energy for a baby or toddlers. I had to heal myself physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.  I remember coming home from the hospital and all 3 children had chickenpox.  I let all 3 spend their recovery in bed with me. I needed them and they needed me.  It was a special time of healing for me.  Robbie and I made up for some lost time when I homeschooled him for 10 years!  In fact I enjoyed homeschooling all 3 kids, at some point in each of their lives. It was a joy watching them learn. They inspired me!
What are some of your favorite, standout memories from your life as a mother? 
Gosh, I have so many!  Watching each child start preschool, junior high, high school, college, weddings, and becoming parents themselves. I loved how my children were so giving and compassionate for others.  They loved church, God, friends, family. I even loved that they didn’t mind the quietness of our home.  I especially loved our yearly treks home to Massachusetts, all my kids asleep in the back of the van, with a few episodes of the girls having to listen to Robbie sing ’99 bottles of beer on the wall’ and ‘are we there yet?’ I also loved watching my daughters play Barbie’s til like age 12,  They loved it.  I loved watching our kids make up plays, and forts out of boxes and furniture.  I loved ‘happy’ and ‘sad’ time at our dinner table – where we would share the highlights and lowlights of our day with each other.  I loved how they welcomed anyone we invited to our dinner table, friends or family.  I loved teaching my kids and watching them learn how to make a difference in the world around us.  I loved being involved in the different activities they were in. I loved their questions and watching them spread their wings out and fly like eagles.
What did you do to get through the hard days of parenting? 
There were quite a few hard times. My husband always worked long days and different shifts, so a lot of the parenting was left to me and I felt like I was alone.  I had a lot of prayer partner friends, so prayer and friends definitely helped me through.  Sometimes, I’d have to just be alone to breathe. I learned to get up every morning and start my day with my Bible, devotional and prayer. I’ve also kept journals since I was 16, and eventually these journals turned to prayer journals.  This is a habit I have continued ever since!
What do you know now that you wish you knew then? 
How I wish I could have more time learning and watching each child develop into young men and women!  I was so busy being doing things that I considered important.  While these things were good (ministries, volunteer opportunities, playgroups), I now realize that I missed the signs of things going wrong with all 3 kids.  I missed the signs of a son in depression and anxiety but I was too tired and too busy to see it.  My cancer was a reality check for me.  I do with that maybe I had raised my kids where there was a neighborhood to play with other kids, and better school systems.  My kids didn’t have the opportunities I know now they could have had. And sometimes I wish that we had stayed closer to our extended families.
What did you like to do if/when you would get a little bit of time to yourself? 
Time to myself didn’t happen much.  I’d go forever without haircuts, never had my nails done, and never went to movies, etc.  I would say I would have spent it with a friend.  I worked weekends waitressing, so sometimes that felt like time to myself.  I’ve always enjoyed libraries, Bible studies, reading, and I enjoyed exercising so I tried to make that a priority.
What advice do you have for young moms today? 
Make sure that time of quietness with your husband, kids and family is a priority.  My husband and I would have “coffee hour” together every day.  We even told the kids “don’t come out of your rooms unless there’s a fire” and they know we meant it! We had family homemade dinners every night where the kids could share the days events, good or bad.  We went to church together every Sunday.  Whenever dad was home, it was family time.  We let the kids get involved in one sport or activity at a time, and any church event they were interested in.  And we always had a special birthday party for each of their birthdays.
What is your favorite part about being a Grandmother? 
All of it!  I get to spend more time watching their personalities develop since now  I am not the parent. I love the unconditional love and hugs they give me.  There is nothing like hearing “It’s Grammy!!” when they see me. The hardest part is not getting to spend enough time with all 9 of them.  Each one is so different and special.  I can’t wait to see them grow through school, college, marriage and their own children. Of course, I pray they all follow Christ as their Savior, and discover His grace and purpose for the life He has planned for them.
My parents with 8 of their 9 grandchildren
What is your favorite thing to do in your free time? 
I love to relax and read a good book, go to coffee shops, book shops, and visit local wineries.  I like to spend time either by myself or with my husband discovering new places that aren’t too far away or expensive.  We like to go on what we call an “us retreat”, just talking, walking, eating, and holding hands.  After 33 years of marriage, I am still in love with my husband and father of my 3 kids, and the best Grampy of our 9 grandchildren.
And finally, how would you sum up your life and faith story?
Jesus saved me from destruction. The chains were undone and I was set free:
It was 1972. I was age 16, in 10th grade.
My mother was a single mom, my father was not much in our lives, and my life was heading down the wrong path. I had too much freedom!
From ages 12-18, I hung out in the streets of Boston. I was fiercely independent.
My mother remarried when I was 16, and my life changed.
I needed a Savior –  things for me were going to get a lot worse.
I began to hang out with the wrong friends.   I was introduced to drugs and drinking.
My stepdad beat me up.
I ran away for days, and moved out as soon as I graduated.
My stepbrother raped me.
I became anorexic.
I fought depression and anxiety for years.
I was a “biker chic” for almost 8 years, and lived that lifestyle. I was addicted to the adrenaline of it!
But God knew this young girl of 16 needed Him.
She needed a good Father, a loving Father. Someone she could learn to trust and who would keep her safe!
I started going to these Friday meet ups.
They were called “Teens & Twenty’s”.
Pastor Jack would come and teach at the house of a boy in our school that I had a crush on.
Me and my best friend Pam went one Friday, then the next Friday, then the next.
My friend Shelly started to go with me also.
We would walk miles to go to these group meetings.
The house was packed with teenagers needing to hear God’s message.
Songs were sung and a message was delivered.
Many teens were getting saved – some worse off then me.
I was drawn in.
I felt God’s peace and His love.
I wanted more, and it was here that I accepted Him as my Lord and especially my Savior!
I was called a “Holy Roller” from my family,  but I didn’t care.
I felt the chains were lifted off of me. I was loved and set free!
I didn’t change my life style right away. I wish I did.
It would be another 10 years of me having to go through trials and tribulation before I’d completely give my life to Him.
Psalm 23 became my daily Scripture throughout those 10 yrs.
And this became my daily song, to get me through each day (I don’t even know the name of it. It was my Salvation song I learned at these home meetings)
“I asked the Lord,
To stand by me.
When trials & temptations come,
Lord stand by me.
I walked through the valley,
The valley of sin.
I looked for a new life,
Somewhere to begin.
I looked up towards heaven,
My Saviour came in!
I asked the Lord,
To stand by me,
When trials & temptations come.
Lord stand by me!”
I went through many trials, temptations, and sin.
He did what He promised in this Psalm and Song:
He led me to greener pastures.
He led me to still waters.
He delivered me from evil.
He stood by me! The lost sheep!
His rod and His staff comforted me. My Shepherd!
My Father, stayed by me!
I am forever grateful that I am saved and my sins washed  away by the blood of Christ!
Thank you Jesus!