Friday, May 6, 2011

An Adventure in Motherhood

My mother, Gene Vilma Strickler Haatainen Wagner
When it comes to motherhood, my experience runs the gamut. I gave my firstborn up for adoption in 1980. After I married my first husband (who died in 1989), I gave birth to two more girls. Following a couple of years of single parenting and widowhood, I remarried and became the stepmother to my second husband’s two daughters, one of which likes me and one who … well … doesn’t. Altogether, that totals five daughters. What I don’t know much about is mothering boys, which is perfectly alright with me. Quite honestly, I never wanted a boy. I simply did not think I would be a good mother to a boy, and apparently God agreed.

So with Mother’s Day upon us, I thought I would share my feelings about being a mom.

Motherhood is about so much more than giving birth. Any of you adoptive moms out there know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s funny how being a mother just naturally produces an exorbitant amount of love, whether you are raising the child you gave birth to or the child someone else graciously entrusted into your care. But it is not just the raising of a child that produces the love. The birthing does as well. As a birth mother who cared for her daughter for a few days after her birth and then handed her over to a nurse and walked out of the hospital with empty arms, I know the intense pain that accompanies a mother’s love when there is no recipient of it. Empty arms. Too many of us have known the pain of them, whether by choice or by death. Perhaps there is no pain greater than a mother’s love that must be kept inside.

Three of the five
Thanksgiving 2009
I didn’t want to be a single mom. Again, it was something I didn’t think I would be any good at. However, this time God apparently didn’t agree, and I was thrust into that role with two small children. And guess what? I did okay. Really.

And then came my next challenge – being a stepmom. Hmm. I thought I could master this one, but let me tell you, it’s a tough one. I understood that everyone would have to be tossed into the blender. What I failed to realize, however, was that you had to put the lid on before hitting the ‘blend’ button. Splat!! To say it didn’t go so well, would be, most definitely, an understatement. How my husband and I survived those early years is beyond me … no, actually, it’s not. It is only by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit that we made it past our first five years or so. Now, I’m happy to say we will be celebrating our twentieth wedding anniversary in August. I adore him and I love the home we have made. We survived, and we’re both better people for it! He is, without a doubt, the best father my girls could possibly hope for, and he loves them with everything in him.

I’ve walked through the waters of marriage, single parenting, and blended families. They are all hard work! So, my advice to you, if you are married and considering looking for greener pastures – think long and hard about your choice before making it. Like I said, marriage is hard work. Single parenting is hard work. And blending families is the hardest work of all! There’s no way around the hard work aspect, so, if at all possible, why not exert the effort in your current marriage?

But back to motherhood. Nothing in my life has been more fulfilling than being a mother. My girls bless me on a daily basis. I sometimes miss the days of being a stay-at-home mom with little ones, but I love having adult children. And I love being a grandma.

Four of our five daughters at Bethany's wedding in 2006
So, as you prepare to spend Sunday with your own children or, if you’re blessed enough to still have her with you, with your mother, I wish you a very happy Mother’s Day. Luxuriate in the miracle of family, one of God’s greatest gifts to us.

Saluting all you moms out there and the incredible job you’re doing,



  1. What an amazing story...I'm all teared up now! As this will be my first Mother's Day as a mom, I thank you for sharing your wisdom - and happy Mother's Day to you!

  2. Have a fabulous Mother's Day, Kelly! Enjoy every moment!!


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