They say it takes a village to raise a child. I am aware being a mom myself that it is super important to place wonderful people around your children to help them grow and train them up right. I was thinking today, how I have been surely shaped by some very important women in my life. Some who remain very close and others who have no idea the impact they have made on who I am, as a mother, wife and a woman. What a perfect time to celebrate them!
Of course, My mom!
My mom was my biggest example of who a mother is. Mostly because she was there almost 100 percent of my growing up. She held the pieces together when the walls came crumbling down. My mom never wanted to be a mother. She didn’t know how she could be a good one, because her mom (though she tried) struggled with showing my mom how to love. God has a great sense of humor, because when my mom was 7 months pregnant with her first child they did an X-ray to find out that in fact she was having two. My twin and I entered the family in August of 1978. My parents did not have a whole lot of money, but some how with great help from my dad, my mom raised us, fed us, and clothed us. I remember when sharing a cheeseburger at McDonald’s was a night out and I remember the year we didn’t have money to buy Easter dresses, but my sister and I fell in LOVE with these cherry dresses, accompanied by a hat and socks. We walked to the car in the Northland Mall parking lot not realizing that my mom had run back in and purchased those dresses. She skimmed on lunch money for herself so that we could have an Easter dress. My life was filled with moments like these. Moments of sacrifice, of love so that my sister and I could not only have what we needed, but also enjoy it.
Through my mom I developed a funny side. Sometimes I am sure that her quirky funny side was not on purpose but it stuck and it made her likeable. Did she embarrass me? Yes! But now I see me doing the same, so I guess it is okay. My mom was always there. She sometimes was a little too much, but everything she did was motivated by her love for us.
I don’t get to see my mom as much as I like to ( I sometimes really miss the moments when it was just our family of 5). We talk every so often and she is still a very good grandmother to my kids. She continues to implement those memories as she did when I was young to make life enjoyable. She never forgets a holiday or a birthday. My kids love her and quite often the most wonderful sides of my mother can be found in me. For that I am so thankful.
Karla Taber moved into town when I just finished Elementary School. She had 3 precious children (Josh, Bethany, and Sarah) and an amazing husband. It was not long before she invited me into her home and I began watching, on occasion, her family. Through the years I was a part of their family and I was allowed to hold the two newest members of the family (Rachel and Jessah) during their first week of life (for real I can still remember what each child was wearing when I held them for the first time-very impactful :). This family taught me so much. More than they will realize. I learned how to raise children by watching Karla. I wanted to be like her. She was patient and kind. She was creative and knowledgeable. She loved her family and spent time with her family, treating each one of her five children individually. Through her I was allowed to learn to become a miniature mother and later on when I had my own children, I was one step ahead. Karla saw me through a lot of my high school problems reminding me that I was okay and constantly building me up as an individual. Her children were amazing and oh my goodness I loved them so much! My only regret is that I was not better at keeping her family closer when we moved to Lynchburg. Sometimes I really miss all of them, but what Karla left me with is what I instill in my children. Without her I would not be the mom I am. If I am 1/10th of who she is as a mom, I am still amazing.
God never gives up on me. He proves it time after time and most significantly in college he proved it when I met Natshia Lowry and her family. Natashia was and still is an amazing mom to me. I am not sure I would have made it through college without her wisdom and guidance. I am not sure I would have made it through life in general without her. To this day if there is something I struggle with, I can email, call or text her and I know I am going to get an honest answer. Not just an honest answer but spiritual guidance to whatever trial life throws me. I am pretty sure that if Natashia knew what kind of project I was she may not have been so eager to welcome me in. None the less she did. I was once again adopted by a wonderful family with four beautiful children and It wasn’t long after we met that I soon had two little brothers and two new little sisters.
There were times when I would show up at the Lowry house crying over my situation. Natashia never hesitated to give me advice and encourage me to continue on. She saw me make mistakes, and sometimes laughed at them with me. Oh how I needed that. Often we stayed up late many nights laughing with everyone just about life. She showed me what family was suppose to be. When I met Tim, she welcomed him in. And when Tim proposed she was a big part of planning and making sure that I had the wedding I wanted. Not because she got anything out of it, but because she truly loved me like her own. I knew it, and I know it!
There is a part of Natashia that lives in me, because she cared enough to invest in me. My children are better because of her and my husband is better because of her.
She really didn’t have a choice whether she wanted to be my “mom” or not, but she has taken her responsibility seriously and done a great job. I met Theresa Grandstaff before I met Tim (my husband). She was actually my “supervisor” if you will, over me when I was a leader in the middle school youth group at TRBC. How I began working in her and Tim Sr’s youth group will remain quiet for now (that is a whole different story). I love how God orchestrates things. One night when I had stopped by her house for something I remember her telling me that the right guy was out there somewhere for me. Little did I know he was just in the next room over. When I married into the Grandstaff family I was the only girl and boy did I get spoiled (still do, even though I have a Grandstaff sister now). Theresa lightens life. She pays attention to detail and loves tradition. She never ever forgets a holiday. I actually get gifts from HER on mother’s day. She calls the kids, emails us often, and always hits the “like” button on whatever I say on facebook. She is one of the greatest grandma’s I have ever witnessed. But, the most important thing that she has done doesn’t really involve me, but it affects me every day. She raised a son to be a man of God. To some that may seem trivial, but to me it is the strength that holds my family together. She loved her son well, and therefore not only does he love me well, but he loves his children. That is the greatest gift I could have ever been given.
I love Chris Willmington. When we moved to Georgia we were all alone. We had no family, I was scared and PREGNANT…not just a little pregnant but ALOT pregnant. What in the world was I going to do? When we left Lynchburg we left everything! We left both of our families, our second families, any comfortable feelings, and mostly any kind of support for the adventure ahead. Moving to Georgia was one of my hardest moves, but I soon realized I wasn’t alone. Chris made it her mission to make sure that Tim and I felt like we had family. When we needed a babysitter, Chris stepped in. When we needed a place to go for holiday’s I knew we were going to be attending at the Willmington household! When my children were born, and our other family could not make it she and her family came and sat with us. She never missed a moment, from dedications to Kindergarten graduations, she was always there watching my kids and supporting us. When I needed marriage advice, cooking tips, parenting advice, I turned to her. She walked me through so many of those moments. One of the most significant times was when we lost our baby. Now I wasn’t far along, but to me it was devastating. I didn’t want to talk to anyone EXCEPT Chris. She was my solid source of comfort. She knew what I was going through, and…she was my family. Watching her grace and beauty through her mothering I learned so much. She is one of the most Godliest women I have ever met and I continue to strive to be like her.
My husband has laughed at me off an on while I was writing this because I kept crying. I look at my life and see these amazing women who chose to love me/us, some having a choice, some stuck with it. It is just overwhelming. I will never forget the path that God has brought me on and the lives he chose to be such an important part in my life. I am who I am because of each and every one of these women. I think if you spent any time with me you would see a piece of them come out. I know I haven’t reached it yet, but I will continue to strive to be like all of these super wonderful moms.
Thank you for loving me and taking time for me. You will never know your impact on me and how it will continue through my children.