“Grace, then, is grace—that is to say, it is sovereign, it is free, it is sure, it is unconditional, and it is everlasting.” – Alexander Whyte.
I have always wanted a large family. My mom came from a smaller family. She only had one brother, and he never married. When my mom and dad married, they just had my brother and me, so we were the only children on that side of the family. It had its perks (we never had to share our grandparents!), but it also had its drawbacks, because whenever we got together with everyone, my brother and I only had each other to play with. If you can imagine, it wasn’t a whole lot of fun, especially as we got older.
My dad comes from a larger family, and growing up, I loved when everyone got together. My dad is one of four children, and they each had multiple children. Counting my brother and me, there were ten cousins, and we always had a lot of fun together.
When my husband and I started our family, agreeing on how many children to have did not always happen. I wanted several people crammed around the dining room table, just like I had at family functions growing up. But it took some convincing for my husband to see my vision.
We ended up having four children, all of whom are girls. Being a tomboy and having mostly male friends, I didn’t know much about girls, and I frequently questioned how I ended up with a gaggle of them in my house. But it all started to make sense a little over three years ago.
That’s when I lost the last woman I ever looked up to and was thrust into the matriarch role of our family at the ripe, old age of 35.
In three years, I had lost both of my grandmothers and my mom (as well as a grandfather, but we’re strictly talking matriarchs today). I was in my early to mid-30s when every motherhood figure I had was gone. If I look at how much more life I could potentially see, that is a long time to be a matriarch.
Last year, it finally hit me: This is it. I’m it. I am not ready to be it. I’m not equipped to be a matriarch. I am nowhere near responsible enough, knowledgeable enough, self-reliant enough, old enough. When I picture a matriarch, I see a woman with silver hair and glasses, not someone with a now 6-year-old at home.
But somehow, in some way, the torch has now passed to me. There is no one left to look up to, no one to call and talk to or ask for advice. If I were not a woman of faith, I probably would find this thought quite terrifying—that I am now the sole female on my side responsible for the next generation of our family.
I’m not equipped to be a matriarch. I am nowhere near responsible enough, knowledgeable enough, self-reliant enough, old enough.
But I am a woman of faith, and there is nothing so terrifying that God cannot calm. I have relied a lot on the Lord these last few years, more than I probably have my entire life. There have been so many times when I’ve needed God’s love, God’s understanding, and God’s grace.
I handled a situation with my girls that did not go so well—love, understanding, grace. I did something I felt wouldn’t live up to my mother’s expectations—love, understanding, grace. I dropped one of the hundreds of plates I’m spinning at any given time—love, understanding, grace. And not only has God given me these things, but God has been teaching me to give myself these things.
When that doesn’t work, God sends someone who can.
I am extremely fortunate to have a close relationship with my mother-in-law. Since my mom’s passing, that relationship has gotten even closer. She (and my father-in-law too) has stepped in tremendously to help with my girls—chauffeuring them around, attending their school functions and sporting events, and keeping them (sometimes overnight) to give my husband and I a little reprieve. She also has been so thoughtful with gifts that remind me of my mom and the time I spent with her.
I appreciate my mother-in-law’s love, understanding, and grace in my life more than I can say.
I know my girls appreciate it too. I think in some way, they’ve realized the pressure I’ve put on myself to be a good role model for them. They know how devastated and alone I’ve felt. They know how badly I wish their grandmothers were still here. Deep down, I hope they understand that I’m doing the best I can to keep those memories and traditions alive. I try all the time to emulate the women who were role models for me. I learned from them, and hopefully, my girls will learn from me. I was given four amazing young ladies to help me take on this new life role.
I trust and have faith in God’s divine plan. While I might never know why God chose me to be a matriarch at such an early time in my life, I at least take comfort in the fact that He is right there with me, helping me be responsible enough, knowledgeable enough, self-reliant enough (and hopefully one day, “old enough”).
I thank God for trusting me with such an important job. I pray that God will help me raise my girls in a way that honors Him. I ask Him to help me be a strong matriarch for our family so that one day when I am gone, my children and their children and their children’s children will mirror the physical and faith examples I set and become strong matriarchs in their own right.
And I pray this brings comfort to anyone who might be in a similar situation, either because of death or because older female relatives are no longer in your life. I encourage you to lean on God and others who can provide you with the same love, understanding, and grace I’ve experienced. God is faithful and will provide.
“In his kindness, God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” (1 Peter 5:10).
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