My childhood wasn’t the typical childhood. I wasn’t from a church going family; my mother only had one brother so there wasn’t a lot of children or cousins. I only had one cousin that was older than me and I didn’t know my father’s family at all. My mother was an alcoholic so I didn’t have the typical stay at home mother. She was the partying type of woman and her life was lived for the weekends. My mother didn’t have a job and my dad was the provider for the family. There wasn’t a lot of physical touch in my home. There wasn’t any hugging or kissing. This is the reason why I loved spending summers with my grandmother, my mother’s mom. Between the ages of 4-13 years old, I spent my summers in Virginia with my grandmother. Those summers are where I would get the chance to be nurtured. That’s when I would feel that sense of security every child needs. It was a great part of my life while growing up.
At 13 years old, my parents got separated, and much to my dismay, contact with my grandmother was broken. So, between the ages of 13-16 years old I was put in a foster home. The woman that hosted me was a young woman in her 20’s and she had three young boys. During those 3 years, I had my own room and I became sort of a big sister. The routine for most days was coming home from school and doing my homework. She even taught me how to cook. This is where I saw what it looked like when a mother was nurturing. My grandmother and this young woman are the two examples of motherhood I got to observe growing up.
Once I got saved at 17, I realized my mother did the best she could and soon after I was able to forgive her lack of nurturing. I learned that her mom didn’t raise her, because she was a troubled teenager, she was sent to live with her aunt for most of her teenage years. When I gave my life to the Lord; I learned what it meant to be a mom by watching others. I felt like an only child growing up because my one sibling, my brother, was always hanging out in the streets. I would pray: “God if I ever get married I want a big family”. I certainly didn’t know what I was asking for! After becoming the mother of eight amazing kids, I see now that God answered a little girl’s prayer.
After getting married at the age of 20, my husband and I decided we wanted a large family. There were many days where being a mom seemed exhausting and all together too impossible of a task. I remember hearing my spiritual mom say: “ God is not going to give you more than you can bare." So when people would ask me: “How do you do it?” I would always say: “God will always give you the grace to do it”.
So, I began this journey of motherhood.I had been around many women who felt that their children were a burden. And because I felt abandon growing up, I would say to my self: “How can you feel that your kids are a burden?” Raising my children meant I got to redeem the time. In my mind, my kids were such gifts and I wanted to use the time with them to make them feel valued, affirmed and loved. Growing up, my mom didn’t make much time for me, so I wanted to make sure all my kids had a piece of me. I was on a mission to make sure they knew me and I knew them. That’s when I started to read books that educated me about my self and my children.
But then, there were days when I remember struggling greatly to be a good mom. It was very overwhelming to have the amount of children I had. I didn’t always feel I had the help that I needed from their dad. My husband, being a pastor, travelled a lot. I often felt like a single parent. Sometimes the days would be so rough, it would put me in a state of depression. I had some really good old “pity parties”.(LOL)
A part of knowing myself was knowing my temperament, which was melancholy. So after my “party”, I would go to the book of Psalms and read. I soon discovered that David and I were kindred spirits. I saw that I could discipline my self to see that my Father was my source; I am not by my self, that He will never leave me nor forsake me. That’s when I got to know Him as Jehovah Shammah: the God that is always there. During those years, because I still felt like a single mom, I realized some resentment had built up within me. I remember reading an article by Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth Graham. She stated that because Billy traveled all over the world, she would be left at home with their five children and would find herself resenting her husband for leaving her with all those kids. The solution she found was to get on her knees and would not get up until the resentment was gone. Recognizing myself in her story, I decided to go to my room, get on my knees, in my dirty house while my husband was staying in fancy hotels. (LOL)
For many nights, I would find my self on my bedroom floor praying. I’d fall to my knees and decide I wouldn’t get up until the re sentment I felt was gone. I would say: “ Father, I want you to take the resentment, I don’t want to be mad anymore.” Some of those nights, I would even fall asleep on my knees then wake up and ask my self: “ Is that feeling still there?” and if it was, I would stay on my knees until it was gone. If Ruth Graham did it, then so could I. The Lord really began to show me He is my source. My source of happiness was not my husband or my children. I could love them, but they couldn’t give me the joy that God could give me. I understood the Psalms when it talks about the Savior being the lifter of our heads. No one can lift my head but the Lord!