Moms come in all shapes and sizes, but that doesn’t matter to their daughters. Little girls, from the earliest age, want to talk like mom, dress like mom and be like mom. Even girls who have been abused want to stay with mom, always hoping for a better life.
Girls love their moms . . . just because.
Moms wield a greater influence on their daughters’ lives than any other person. Sometimes daughters want to change things about themselves that they didn’t like in their moms, only to find that when they are grown they are very much like their moms in many ways.
Moms who did not receive the right kind of love from their mothers often replicate that deficiency with their daughter’s rearing, and a love-hate relationship forms. Nevertheless, a daughter never stops wishing and hoping for her mom’s unconditional love.
The mom who nurtures her child leaves a legacy of nurturing that will continue from generation to generation.
My earliest remembrances were that my mom always wanted me around. I never felt as if I were a bother or an imposition. My mother’s nurturing nature continued after she had grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Nothing was ever too much trouble if it involved being with her family.
From the time I was very small, my mom and I took train trips to see her parents in Kansas City. It was quite natural when I had children of my own to want the same experience for them. When my children were four, six and eight, Mom, my three kids and I drove back to Kansas City with my aunt, my mom’s sister, who had been visiting us in Houston. We stayed with my aunt a few days and then rode the train back to Houston so that the kids could experience an overnight train ride.
When my daughter Shari’s eldest, Cara, was born in 1982, my aunt and uncle still lived in Kansas City. They were closing their antiques business and planned to sell everything at an auction. Mom, Shari, two-month-old Cara and I flew to Kansas City for a few days and had the most wonderful time. I’ll never forget how Shari reacted to the fall foliage. Because she had grown up in Houston, Shari had never seen the seasons change. Most of the leaves fall off the trees before they ever change colors. During our stay in Kansas City, we stopped the car many times so that Shari could take pictures of the beautiful red, orange and yellow leaves.
The trip to Kansas City and the antiques auction fueled Shari and me to the point that we opened a small antiques shop inside a tearoom when Cara was eight months old. We each worked every other day, and I kept Cara the days that Shari worked. Cara spent much of her infancy at antiques auctions with her mom and me.
The legacy of nurture from my mom to me and then to Shari is so powerful that Cara has naturally taken on the nurturing role left vacant when Shari died. Cara would think nothing of driving home from college to take her sisters shopping or to go somewhere with her dad and sisters. Nurturing is something that is hard to pinpoint, but it is my belief that a well-nurtured child believes that he or she is so special that everyone always wants them around. When you’ve experienced a nurturing mother, it becomes so much easier to believe that God feels the same way about you and always wants to be with you.
Cara wrote a wonderful story about what it means to have a nurturing mom.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
As a small child, I wanted answers from my mother. By the time I was a teenager, I felt that I had been given enough answers. As I changed, my mother’s ways of conveying that she cared for me changed. Despite the fact that my sisters and I varied in age, Mom was able to tailor her caring ways to our individual understanding.
At the end of my sophomore year in high school, my mother had the privilege of taking a trip to Israel and walking the same ground as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I was a little worried that something would happen to her while she was gone, but fear was not my foremost emotion. I was exceedingly happy that she had been given the opportunity to travel to a land where she would be able to see things such as the tomb in which Jesus had been buried. Just before she left, my mother gave each of us—Christen, Amanda and me—a box. Inside were a few small gifts and a card for each day that she would be gone. Every day I went to my box and found one of her handwritten notes. Sometimes it was a note of encouragement, perhaps about the final exam I was to take that day, or simply a short sentence that said she was missing me and thinking about me.
At age 15, I did not realize the depth of love and care that my mom put into her every action. Everything she did mirrored her fundamental beliefs, and the boxes that overflowed with encouragement were a perfect example. When she was here enjoying life with the rest of us, my mother’s love for my sisters and me was something I had grown accustomed to; I incessantly soaked in “momma”; therefore, I thought very little of life being any other way. Now that I am older, and without my mother’s constant display of encouragement, I realize that each act of her kindness was done with special thought.
A journal entry written by my mother sparked my memory of the boxes she left behind for my sisters and me when she went to Israel.
From the time I heard of it [the trip to Israel] last fall, something inside of me was saying that would be an awesome thing. Can you imagine walking on the same ground the Israelites walked, much less where Jesus was born and died? But the “me” part of me kicked in. What about my safety? I have three little kids I must raise. This is not my idea of vacation. The Middle East—I watch the news—no thanks! Why not Hawaii? Besides, we’re broke!
I have continually asked God to remove this desire to seek this out if it wasn’t about Him. Well, it’s not going away. It’s only growing stronger. What does He want to teach me or show me? I don’t know; but from experience I am learning that as hard as it is to do what He says, it’s even harder not to. He is also showing me that when I get my focus right, He will provide. How would I explain to Amanda, who is scared in Chappell Hill, that Mom’s going to the Middle East? He will provide a way to do what He has asked me to do—that’s the way He’s been doing it forever.
As I read those words, I realized something. First and foremost, my mother’s cards of encouragement were given to us because she was concerned that we would be in fear of her safety while she was gone. She wanted to make sure that any distress the three of us might be feeling would be replaced with her words of encouragement. Second, I discovered that she was fearful of leaving, because there might be a chance that something would happen to her, and my sisters and I would be left without a mother. The fact that she worried about such a thing proves a great lesson to the rest of us. My mother felt no anxiety about the possibility of her life coming to an end as she left my grandparents’ house on Thanksgiving night of 2001. However, without warning, it did end. She was not given a spare moment to worry about how those of us remaining were going to make it without her; her heavenly Father simply called her home, and she went! Why should any of us let fear hold us back from the things we know God has called us to do, which in my mother’s case, was to travel to Israel? God’s timing will always prevail, whether someone chooses to worry or not!
I am grateful that my mother was the godly woman that she was to my sisters and me. Even though while she was alive I didn’t see the fullness of the blessing I had been given, it is now quite evident that she gave each of us so very much.
Moms everywhere love to say, “Well, I did the best I could,” when talking about their relationships with their children. My answer to that statement is “Not a good answer!” I know that I didn’t always do the best that I could! Many times, I knew in my heart that I could do better.
If nurturing doesn’t come easily for you, for whatever reason, you can still learn to nurture your children. As Zig Ziglar says, “It is easier to a act your way into a new way of feeling than to feel your way into a new way of acting.”1 A nurturing legacy to your children will leave a God-sized imprint on their hearts. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” This is a legacy-making verse if we can learn the value of nurturing our children, who are a gift from God.
Leaving a Legacy
Each one of us has daily opportunities to leave a legacy of nurture to those we love. It might be as simple as an speaking an encouraging word, writing a handwritten note or a giving a big hug as you say “I love you” to your child.
• What can you do to make your daughter feel special and loved?
• How can you encourage your daughter in an area that is difficult for her?
• What can you tell your daughter about her that makes you very proud?