What’s the best gift your mom gave you? Today I’m delighted to welcome Lisa Hendey to share her reflection. Lisa is the founder of CatholicMom.com and the author of A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms and The Handbook for Catholic Moms. A fellow California girl, Lisa and I have had the chance to hang out on several occasions and it’s always great to talk about writing, spirtuality, and parenting (she is also the mother of two boys, one in college and one in high school, and for me she is proof that there will come a day when I will no longer have to dodge Matchbox cars hurtling at great speed across the floor). Thanks for sharing your time and talent with us, Lisa!
I grew up the eldest of five children, in a bustling, crazy Catholic home. My mom delivered me ten months after her wedding, and only a year after her graduation from college. When I was less than two months old, my parents left their hometown of Ft. Wayne, Indiana for a cross-country trip to California, and in the end they never looked back.
Three years later, we added my sister Erin to the mix, and our family joyfully grew to include Patrick (who finally earned my Daddy’s name after Erin and I both turned out to be – disappointingly – girls), Brady (yes, a sister named for the Brady Bunch!) and finally Michael (fourteen years my junior). When I think back on my childhood, the dual gifts of faith and family share the lion’s portion of my memories.
But as I age in my own mothering vocation, I see that the best gift my Mom gave me was the ability to trust – to trust God’s will for her life, to trust her husband’s love, to trust her instincts as a mom, and to trust that, despite some pretty crazy circumstances, in the end all would be well.
I look at my mom’s life now and see the moments at which that trust could have, perhaps deservedly, gone off the tracks. As a “grown up”, I now know some of the struggles she faced – physical separation from her own parents in an age when staying in touch happened by letters, miscarriages and health difficulties, financial burdens and periodic unemployment for my dad, a passel of rambunctious (and sometimes defiant) kids, and a path through life that included more than its fair share of ups and downs.
Outsiders would likely look at our family and congratulate my parents on a job well done. In raising us, they gave us active faith lives, strong educational backgrounds, and a commitment to marriage and family. But they also taught us that trust – that in those moments when others would cut and run, or take an easier path, we were to believe confidently in God’s providence for the situation.
Mom’s ability to trust is something I’ve been trying to work on in my own life. Sometimes it feels as though it would be so much easier if He’d simply go with my marching orders. That same trust has also had to extend to my own children as I watch my sons grow and mature and realize that the way I would have picked for them is not always the one they will choose for themselves.
The third chapter of the book of Proverbs tells us,
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
on your own intelligence do not rely;
In all your ways be mindful of him,
and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
It’s a lesson I’ve learned daily from my mom, both in word and in deed. When I begin to fret or to fail in that confidence, hers is the first phone number I dial. And while all of her gifts continue to be given with great generosity, this is one for which I’ll be eternally grateful.
Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms and The Handbook for Catholic Moms. She hosts the weekly “Catholic Moments” podcast and Catholic Mom television show. Hendey is a technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show and a regular guest on Relevant Radio’s On Call afternoon show. She is a columnist for Faith & Family,Catholic News Agency, and Catholic Exchange, and her articles have appeared in National Catholic Register and Our Sunday Visitor. She gives frequent workshops on faith, family, and Catholic new media topics. Hendey resides in Fresno, California, with her family.