November 14, 2009

It Takes A Village

Sadie is turning 6 in a couple of days. She is at the age where she is beginning to have so many outside influences in her life. At first this really scared me. But as I look back on my life at some of the people who have influenced me, I realize that there are so many wonderful people out there who care about her that have great things to teach her- things that I never could!

I have been so lucky in my life to have such strong women around me to help me along the way. From the beginning, there has always been my mother. If you know my mom, she is in no way the touchy feely, talk-about-your-feelings kind of gal. But the lessons that I have learned from her have been invaluable. I have learned that a lot in life is just about showing up. My mother never missed a swim meet, school presentation or youth group activity. As a teenager, I am pretty sure that I didn't always want her there, but she came anyway. Only years later, do I realize the sacrifice that this was. You better believe that there were things she would rather have done than spend every weekend with my brother and me at swim meets all over the country. She's taught me that being a mother is about sacrificing for your children's happiness- because, after all, their happiness is a mother's ultimate happiness. She worked hard every day and still had dinner on the table every night- from scratch. She's shown me that life is what you want it to be. If you want something, you have to work hard for it. If you don't like something, you have to have the courage and the willingness to change it and see it through. My mom decided to go to college when she was in her 40's. I know that this was really scary for her, but she did it! And she did it well! She's the kind of mom who's okay with being a strong, silent helper. She's the kind of mom who shows up with a humidifier and a thermometer when your child is sick. She's taught me that it's okay to do what you think is right, even if everyone else thinks you're crazy! I love her for all these lessons and the million other things that she's taught me along the way. I hope that I can do this for my daughter.

My mom and me

My grandmothers have also had a major impact on my life. I know that Sadie's life is touched by them too. Sadie is lucky enough to still have a great-great grandmother and has ALL of her great-grandparents around and active in her life. (With our genes we may live to be 120!) My Granny Sadie (my mom's mom) instilled in me a deep faith and a compassion for others. Her house was a revolving door for missionaries and pastors from all over. She's the kind of woman you can just sit down and talk with for hours. And growing up- I did just that. She's not afraid to tell you what she thinks, even if it's going to hurt your feelings. She was so hands on, and is the glue that holds all of our family together. She's the kind of Granny that hosted all the cousin campouts, and took us to the creek, and took us fishing and just let us run and be kids. She let us make messes and get dirty. She taught me that faith and conviction are things that you live- not just things that you have. Her kitchen table was always covered with little postcards that she would send off to senators and CEO's pleading with them to have legislation and company standards that lined up with her beliefs. As a teenager, I thought this was a little crazy, but now I find myself doing the exact same thing. She's generous and has taught me that sometimes if you want to create change, you have to put your money where your mouth is. She has loved us grandchildren when we've done some really stupid things. Okay- my brother and I are the only grandchildren who've done stupid things, but she loved us right through it. I hope that I can pay it forward and make my daughter know that she is loved right through anything she'll ever do that's unloveable.

Me with Granny Sadie

My grandmother Daisy (my dad's mom) has shown me more about having a beautiful heart than anyone I have ever encountered. We've always called her Mamaw. I can honestly say that to this very day I have never once heard my Mamaw say one single negative thing about another person. Seriously. There is no one else on Earth that I can say this about. She sees the good in people and trusts them. She takes a chance on people and is such a beacon of light. When the world has turned it's back on you, Mamaw will give you another chance. And there is just something about the goodness that radiates out of her that makes you want to up your game when you are around her. I am sure that her heart has at times been troubled, after all we Baxter's have a tendancy to rouse a little trouble every now and then. But she never lets it show. She prays about it and turns it over to God. So many of us say that we do that, but we don't ever relinquish that control or worry. Mamaw has perfected that. I'll admit, when I was younger, I thought that it was kind of naive. But as I look at her now, I can appreciate just how deep her faith and love for people has to be to let go of that worry. My mamaw was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago. She never once complained about chemo. Never once said "why me?" She was a pillar of strength. Men twice her size would have crumbled under the weight of it, but she still beamed goodness and hope. My mamaw is the kind of woman who spends all day, every day doing good for others and truly never expects anything in return. She has taught me so much about the kind of heart I want to have.

My Mamaw and my Sadie

And lastly, I have to mention my friend Annie G. who taught me something a couple of years ago that has completely changed the way that I am as a mother. She was casually talking one day about how her children were on loan to her from God. I'll never forget how struck I was by this notion. I had always thought of Sadie and Noah, and now Miles, as MY children. At that instant, it hit me that I had it all wrong. They are God's children and HE is letting me borrow them for a while. HE is trusting me with them- to raise them to know him and to be good people. It taught me that there is more to parenting than just getting them to adulthood. It is raising them and loving them as HE would do it- not me, but HIM through me.

Because I have been so blessed with such awesome, strong, loving women in my life; my hope is that I can use all the lessons they've taught me and pass those on to my own children. They have all of these women, plus countless others in their lives, too, to teach them when my own shortcomings as a mom fail me. After all, it truly takes a village, and I am so immensely grateful for the incredible village that they have!


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