Wednesday, May 22, 2013

When you thought I wasn't looking...

A Tribute to All Mothers-biological, adopted, and those who may have never given birth, but have stood in the gap to care for a child
By: Guest blogger, Becky Ballard
Last weekend was Mother’s Day- a joyous occasion, a day set apart to shower our moms with flowers, treats, homemade cards. A time to show the special ladies in our lives how much they mean to us, buy their lunch at Cracker Barrel, a corsage for church. I have always thought that May was the best choice to celebrate Mother’s Day because it is one of the loveliest times of year. (I also believe it should be a long weekend, or maybe held numerous times throughout the calendar but no one has ever asked me!)

This past Sunday at church, Bro. Mark Shelton asked for all moms to come to the front of the church for a special word of prayer. What I loved about this was he clarified that “mothers” can be anyone who has loved, supported, or cared for a child-regardless of whether they had ever given birth. As we all gathered at the front of the church he said the most beautiful prayer for us, a prayer of thanks for a mother’s love, a prayer for strength, wisdom, understanding. All of those things that we need daily to raise up our children so they will be well-adjusted, kind, compassionate adults who will be positive contributors to society and, to make the world a better place.

I have been so blessed to have Betty Bryant as a mother. She is loving, kind, beautiful, smart, hard-working, caring, and a million other things. Everything that I hope to be one day when I grow up, but so far haven’t accomplished yet-not even close. I know that raising two strong-willed girls wasn’t easy, and our personalities clashed from time-to-time as I was growing up. But the second I became a mother, everything became clear to me. All the decisions she made that I didn’t understand at the time, the discipline that I felt was too military, the strict curfews, the lectures, spankings, all the things that I rebelled against, thought was unfair, I finally understood with perfect clarity.

 As a looked into the eyes of Hannah and Micah the first time I held them, I felt a love like no other, a desire to protect and give them the world, the best life has to offer. A feeling of jubilation mixed with fear that I would somehow “mess up” these perfect little babies. That the decisions I would make as their mama would negatively impact their lives. Now my daughters are 13 and 9, I still struggle with that fear and try to find a balance between giving them the desires of their hearts and doing what is best for them. Like their mother, both of my daughters are strong-willed and a little on the stubborn side. But they are beautiful, smart, tender hearted, and the most precious things on this earth. I would gladly die for them without a second’s hesitation, but worry about how I live for them and the example I am setting for them. My own version of tough love has had to come into play many times and I am sure there will be more arguments, misunderstandings, drama, and tears to come. It is my hope and prayer that they too will understand it better when their precious babies turn into sassy adolescents who are trying to find their way in the world. I thank God for the privilege and honor of being Hannah and Micah’s mama and Betty’s daughter.
In honor of my mother, I have re-written one of my favorite poems to express how much she means to me.
When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking

When you thought I wasn’t looking,

I saw you read from your Bible when you were troubled, scared, facing life’s disappointments, but still having faith when times were hard

And I believed that God will hear my prayers and strengthen me when I am weak; that I never have to feel alone or be afraid.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,

I saw you pack a bag of goodies for my daddy with his favorite Little Debbie cakes, Coca-Colas, clean clothes, and his Marlboro Reds when he would go on the road

And I learned that a wife should try to take care of their husbands and make them feel cared for and special; That it is the little things like this that keep a marriage together.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,

I saw you cry along with us when our childhood pets died, dig the grave all by yourself, and let my sister and me pick flowers from your garden to place on that grave

And I knew that your heart was pure and tender, and pets were not just animals; they are family and should be loved and adored.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,

I heard the washing machine and sewing machine late at night, busy sounds from you working early morning hours on housework, canning vegetables from the garden you had slaved in, and the weariness in your voice as you drove my sister and me to town for practice, games, and events.

And I understood that being a mother can be a tiring and thankless role at times; that parents sacrifice so their kids will have a better childhood than the one they had.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,

I saw you labor for days preparing delicious holiday cookies, candy, and meals and decorate our little home as if it were the White House, with a Christmas tree in every room and Christmas carols playing on the stereo

And I felt like I was the luckiest girl in the world, that holidays are magical, and there truly is no place like home.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,

Heard you enforce the rules, stand firm on curfews, not tolerate my bad attitude, and always be the “mean” one while Daddy got to be the “fun parent”

And I understood that you loved me enough to be the “bad guy”, wanted to keep me out of trouble and prevent me from making harmful decisions that would put me at risk of not having a happy future

When you thought I wasn’t looking,

I saw you be a loving, adoring and fun grandmother- making every day special, changing your plans to accommodate them, giving them precious memories and unconditional love-the best “Nanny” in the world

And I realized how blessed I am to have you as my mother and my children’s grandmother.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,

I saw you care for my sick father with tender love and affection, put his needs above your own, kept things together for your family, even though you felt like breaking, and hid the toll it took on you from us

And I realized how incredibly strong you really are.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,

I saw myself as a mother and realized I am not as giving, compassionate, loving or understanding as you are

And I wanted to be more like you in every way that makes you Mama and Nanny to all those who love you. You are my hero and the reason why I am the person I am today. I love you so very much.

-Your Daughter Becky


  1. You have such a gift for writing from the heart. I have watched you grow up in a loving home with wonderful hard working parents. I have watched you mature into a young woman who along with Michael are raising their girls in a loving home with hard working parents. What goes around comes around as they say. Betty is a strong independent caring person just as is her daughter, and I suspect Micah and Hannah will follow in your footsteps. LOL

  2. We miss you Liza...hope you're back writing soon!