Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Proudest moments...

My lovely daughter.
There are those days as a mother when I am insanely proud of my children. I want to tell you about it today.

My oldest daughter had noticed the quiet suffering of a fellow student in one of her online classes. He was just struggling with lots of little things and they were building up and he just was feeling defeated. She took the opportunity to reach out to him because she wanted him to feel less alone. She told me that she wanted to find the right words to use in an email to him to let him know that she appreciated him and the contributions he makes. While she talked about it with me, I never read the email. Later, this young man's mother sent me a message to let me know what a difference it had made for him. She said he had smiled for the first time in many days. She wanted to let me know that Maria's tender little note had ultimately not only for her classmate but for his mother as well.

As mothers, our hearts are forever tied to our children.
Their happiness is our happiness and their grief
is the most profound grief we ever feel.

Maria reached out to this other student because of her own suffering. When we moved here to the farm, she was starting high school. We pulled her away from the only home she had ever known, and all her Colorado friends and family, and set her down her. That is a high challenge for a young teen aged girl. Moving to a small, rural, isolated place is just harder. Friendships here are generations old and grudges are carried around in corners of hearts for a lifetime. I mean that sincerely. I met a lovely mother in one of my children's activities and I think we could have been good friends but a relative of my husband's had been incredibly hurtful to this woman's mother-in-law almost sixty years ago when they were both reckless children. What happened had nothing to do with me but it hung over my head and we were not able to be friends. Friendly, but not really friends.

My children also had a hard time breaking into the inner circle here. We were very actively involved in a specific activity here and my kids were trying very hard to make friends. They were in fact encouraged by the directress, who is a very kind and lovely person. It wasn't going well but I wasn't sure if it was a matter of self-consciousness or a reality. We thought there was a push back from the other children. It turned out to be incredibly real. One of the parents in that group actually had the gall to send me an email telling me to ask my children to stop talking hers and to her child's friends because mine were intrusive. She wanted to let me know that they were long time friends and not interested in my children. To say I was incensed is to underestimate my feelings. To say that I wanted to throat punch somebody behind the Walmart is more accurate. To tell our children what happened was one of the worst moments of my life. I cried telling them and then I cried when they cried.

I can tell you that we have moved past this to the point at which I can pass this family in said Walmart without incident though I may never speak to her again. Ever. It is better this way. From a distance I can pity her children for the harm she causes them by encouraging them to so mean. In the end, it is their loss. Their children will never know the warmth and comfort that my children bring into friendship.

In the end, the incident left wounds on my children but rather than allowing these to fester and make them bitter, they have become very sensitive scars, ones which attune them to the needs of others. If nothing else, I should be grateful for the whole series of events because I have these incredibly kind and compassionate children now. If this other mother reads this, she should know that. Her cruelty has made my children more gentle. Her bitterness has made my children more sweet. The children they rejected are far finer people now than ever before despite her; really, because of her. The world is a better place for that.

Maria told me that because of what happened, she promised herself she would not only never do that to another person ever. Because of what happened to her, she would look for opportunities to reach out and show love and warmth to other people. Because of the horrible way we were treated, she sought out this fellow student and extended such warmth to him that it radiated out to his mother. 


Somewhere out there is someone who is loved
better because someone else was hated more.

When I received that message from his mother, the relief and the comfort was palpable. My daughter may partially understand what she did for this student and his mother but she might never understand what it did for me. My hurt over my children's broken hearts melted in that warmth of her love for her fellow man. If I see that other mother in the store in the future, I  might even smile. I know what she did but she never will see how far it extended. I know the love that radiates out from that point in space. I can feel it and I am not alone.

10 comments:

  1. Beautiful story and images!
    You know we never want our children to suffer for a moment but at the same time we believe in the value of suffering. It's quite a paradox and I'm glad we have the blessed mother who went through this in the absolutely most extreme way. You are a great mom I look up to as well. It is your self awareness that speaks to me the most, I think. You don't hide your faults or feelings like you're so perfect but you listen to your conscience as well. Miss hearing from you. Maria is gorgeous btw.

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    1. Oh, honey. I am totally aware that I am a hot mess in progress but I think that the progress is the most important part! Anyway, I need to get down south and see you. And for the record, I know I am biased, but I also think my daughter is gorgeous!

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  2. Melissa, This is just so touching & beautiful! It is hard because we moms want so much to shield & protect our children's hearts from pain & rejection (knowing how hard those things were for us)...but doing so may mean missing out on an opportunity to grow in compassion. I have seen firsthand in my own family how holding on to decades old hurts (even against people who died years ago) simply allows the pain to grow & fester over the years. Hard as it can be sometimes, I have vowed never to do that. Life is simply too short & too fragile. Bravo, Maria...may God reward you for your kind-heart! God bless your beautiful family!!

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    1. Thanks, Patricia. Life is both short and fragile. I think that is an important thing to remember.

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  3. Hi Melissa,
    Wow! No offense, it sounds like out here- we have the same thing, as in we can't be friends with someone over something that happened 60 years ago. I hate the pettiness!
    Laura On The Prairie

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    1. Hey, Laura! Yeah. That pretty crazy, isn't? I can't even understand it. Wouldn't just want to put it behind and let that burden go? I know that I would.

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  4. Your daughter is truly a blessing. I cannot even imagine getting notes like that! I am so sorry this happened but as Maria demonstrates...God makes all things work together for good.

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  5. Your daughter is truly a blessing. I cannot even imagine getting notes like that! I am so sorry this happened but as Maria demonstrates...God makes all things work together for good.

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  6. It is good that something beautiful came out of your family's painful experience. What a jewel your daughter is! The world needs more people like her who reflect the love of God.
    As for rural life, I get it. My parents have lived in their home for over 30 years. They are still called "transplants". I never knew any home but theirs. Locals ask me my maiden name, don't recognize it, and then say "you must not be from around here". I live about 20 miles from where I grew up. Most people in our "neighborhood" are related to some degree. There are so many alliances, grudges, feuds and who knows what else that I don't understand and I'm sure many I don't even know about. For example, the guy next door and the guy across the road who have some sort of tension between them because one of them took the girl who married the other one to senior prom. These guys are in their late forties. Since I grew up with this kind of stuff, I have learned to be friendly and kind to all, but to never expect to really fit in. I'll always be considered an alien in this world, and I accept it. Maybe I am too defeatist; I don't know. I'm pretty sure my children may have to learn that lesson the hard way someday, though.

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