Author: Lori Carter
When I first became a Christian, I had no real understanding of what that meant. It is the same when I first became a mother. I wasn’t taught much about how to be a mother. I was separated from my own mother for many years due to her mental illness, and when I did come home to her, she didn’t teach me anything about being a parent. How could she, she didn’t have any experience herself because she was separated from her children for a good part of their lives.
Don’t get me wrong, my mother was a wonderful person. I loved her very much, but I didn’t realize until she was gone all the things she had gone through trying to raise us the best she could. There were many things she did to help pay the rent and buy food, and I didn’t understand all that she gave up.
The small amount she received from the Veterans Administration for us kids wasn’t enough to take care of anything. She had built a chicken coop in the back yard and started selling the eggs. She would save the seeds from her vegetables to plant the following year. She made Barbie Doll clothes and sold them at the corner store and took in other people’s laundry and ironing.
I didn’t realize at the time, that she was giving up so much just to keep us fed and clothed. In my naivety I assumed she like doing these things and that was why she did them. There were no new dresses or fancy shoes in her closet and no new jewelry or hair bobs on her dresser. If she needed something new, she would make it just as she did for us kids.
Most parents perform different labors of love as they raise their children. In poorer families, the parents usually put everyone else’s needs above their own, taking the smaller portions at mealtime, or even skipping a meal so there would be enough to go around, wearing shoes and clothes until they fall apart so that a child can have that new dress or coat they need.
But more important is the time spent in prayer for these children as they grow; the prayers that are cried into pillows at night because the future looks so bleak. Then there are the prayers when a child walks to school alone the first time, goes out on that first date or ventures out into the world on their own. There are the prayers that the children will grow in spirit and love and learn to walk the right path in life that are lifted daily to the heavens. These prayers that are prayed throughout the years as that child grows into an adult are the real labor of love that never ceases.
I understand now what it is to be a Christian, I understand what it is to be a parent, grandparent and great grandparent.Jesus knew the labor of love. My labor of love is a daily practice, not just in the morning or before I go to bed, but every time one of the “adult” or “younger children” enters my mind. What is your labor of love.