What It Means To Be a Mother

The other day I opened my old 1940 Episcopal hymnal to the Advent and Christmas section to look for hymns in keys that would be easy to play on my violin.  When I came across number 41 (110 in the newer 1982 addition ), I decided to play it on the piano instead because I wanted to hear the lovely harmony by Leo Sowerby, which, by the way, is not found in the newer hymnal, much is the pity.  I didn’t get very far before the tears came to my eyes, and soon I had to stop playing altogether, I was crying so hard.  Such is the way of mothers, especially old ones who miss their children.

As the notes of this wonderful hymn rang in my ears, I was transported back to Christ Church in San Antonio, Texas, many years ago.  I pictured my little family sitting in the pew in the first row of the transept, our usual spot, George near me with Emily and Matt between us and little Ben on my lap, and all of us in the whole congregation singing at the top of our lungs this joyous hymn.

I love Christmas, but it always carries a touch of bittersweetness when I think of how our lives have changed over the years.  Of course most of the changes have been wonderful, resulting in happy marriages, an awesome son-in-law and a fabulous daughter-in-law, not to mention my two incredible granddaughters.  But the years have also meant that the children grew up and moved away, and I can’t see them whenever I want.  My mama arms are so empty.

Most of the time, I am so busy with my Hampton Roads Writers responsibilities, church volunteer work, working out at the Y, tutoring, and my writing, besides trying to be the best wife I can be for my George, that I can push that ache right out of my mind.  But then something will trigger a memory, and I am a bawling mess.  In this case, it was sitting down at the piano and playing #41 in the 1940 Episcopal hymnal, and remembering one December Sunday morning long ago when we were all together and we all believed the message of what we were singing.

There is a wonderful Youtube video of hymn 41 (or 110) sung by the Mormon Tabernacle choir, but this one is my favorite of this lovely hymn because it is from a service in an Episcopal church and you hear families singing and children talking, so it reminds me even more of when we were a young family.

About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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23 Responses to What It Means To Be a Mother

  1. This post bought tears to my eyes. My kids are ten and four now, but I am already dreading those years ahead of us when they grow up and move away from me.
    Thanks for such a beautiful post!

    • Coming East says:

      Thanks, Shanghai. I’m getting so excited about seeing some of my kids for Christmas, but at the same time, I’m already thinking about how quickly that time will pass and I’ll have to leave them again. It never gets easier.

  2. Amy says:

    Hi Susan, When I was watching this 4-minute video and I thought about your post.

  3. Leah says:

    What a lovely post and you brought tears to my eyes! Even though Sophie is only 4, I already dread those days when she will be off on her own and I’ll have to rely more on memories as you describe. I suppose we should be grateful for the memories. Thanks for the reminder to cherish every day and moment.

  4. judithhb says:

    Susan you always manage to say just what is in my heart. Thank you.

    • Coming East says:

      Thank you for commenting, Judith. I know I am surrounded by mothers who feel the same way. When we are young mothers and in the midst of raising those children, we can’t imagine how it will feel years later when they are grown and our role will be so much less.

  5. pattisj says:

    Isn’t it interesting at how music transports us somewhere else in time? Hugs.

  6. All of us empty nest Mamas have those moments. You so aptly captured what those moments are like and how quickly they descend on us from time to time when a memory is triggered. Sweet, sweet post, CE. Beautiful words with beautiful music! ♥

  7. thesinglecell says:

    What a sweet and honest post. My heart went out to you and to my own mother. Merry Christmas. Here’s to beautiful memories and the promise of more!

  8. Jenny says:

    I have been frequently crying at many things that are happening around our household, knowing that these times are flying by and I will also have empty mama arms one day. Thank you for sharing this beautiful song!

  9. Shary Hover says:

    Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing the music, too.

  10. OK–I’m teary now, too! What a flashback into my childhood. I always loved that song! Thanks for sharing.

  11. mzparentpro says:

    This is such a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing with us.

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