As I reflect on this Mother’s Day, I wanted to use this blog post to share about God’s blessing of having three daughters.
Jennifer Ann Herro was born on September 24, 1983 in Decatur Illinois. Her middle name is after Jeff’s older sister and her godmother, Barbara Ann Ratliff. After 17 hours of labor, she weighed in at 10 lbs and 4 ozs! All the nurses came in to meet that young girl from Texas that had delivered an “everything is bigger in Texas” baby. I know many of you find it shocking that Jennifer is not a “native Texan”. Her father and I in distress over this fact placed bluebonnet seeds under her crib. Jennifer was baptized in the Catholic Church on Christmas Day. The weather that day had snow on the ground and with the wind chill the temperature was 25 below! We were blessed to have Jeff’s mom travel from Texas to Illinois to be with us for that special event.
When Jennifer was 6 months old, I found out I was pregnant with Lauren and on February 2nd, 1985, Groundhogs day and on the worst ice storm in recent Austin history, Lauren made her grand entrance. Instead of a long labor that I had experienced with Jennifer, she was born 30 minutes after I arrived at Seton hospital in Austin, Texas (a “native” Texan!). Lauren weighed 9 lbs and 3 ozs (thank goodness smaller!). Her dad and I thought she was going to be a boy. You see sonograms to determine the gender of the baby were not utilized in the “old days”. So, we hadn’t bothered to pick out a girl’s name based on what the doctor’s had told us. My doctor was confident it was a boy due to the heart beat and the way I was carrying her. As I lay in the recovery room, the nurses came in to ask if we had decided on a name……and I chose Lauren. I loved that name. I named her after Lauren Bacall and Lauren Hutton. Classy women, strong women….something that I wanted for my daughters and something Lauren has definitely become. So strong in fact, she will soon be an IRONMAN! She would be given the middle name of Marie after her aunt and godmother, Susan Marie Bailey.
Jennifer and Lauren were 15 months apart which meant two in diapers and two cribs. Thank goodness, Jennifer was off the bottle and baby food. Needless to say, I didn’t venture out much in those days….there were no fancy double strollers and quite frankly it was just too exhausting. I didn’t need/want anything at the mall so badly that meant an excursion with two little ones in tow. So unless someone would go with me to the grocery store or the mall I pretty much was a stay at home mom in the literal sense. Looking back, I am sure I had post partum depression, but I thought everyone’s life was this exhausting. I simply didn’t know the difference and learned how to function and live being extremely tired.
But amongst the mayhem and exhaustion, there were tremendous blessings. I have so many beautiful memories of Jennifer and Lauren as little girls. Memories that I have tried to illustrate in the videos that follow. Lauren wanted to do everything that her big sister did, which meant she grew up way too fast. In many ways my grandson Benjamin reminded me of Lauren, wanting to do everything that their older sibling did and thinking he/she could.
Two years later, in 1987 on February 27, during a separation and difficult time in my marriage, God sent me Elizabeth Anne Herro. She weighed in at 8 lbs 14.5 ozs (thank goodness even still smaller!). Unlike the other two pregnancies, I went to the hospital three times in false labor with Elizabeth until Dr. Wernecke got tired of seeing me and told me that the baby was “done in the oven” and decided to induce. When Elizabeth was born, she had so much dark hair. Dr. Wernecke called her a beautiful little monkey and the nurses called her Elvis because of all that hair and her sideburns. Oh how the nurses loved to wash and place bows in her hair.
My husband John tells my daughters that they are the three apples, each different, but yet each reflect a different side of me. I love that thought. Three daughters, each reflecting a different view of their mother. Jennifer was the colicky baby that would take forever to get to sleep. Guess what? Jennifer still has problems going to sleep. Lauren, on the other hand cried when she went to first grade because she found out she didn’t get to take naps anymore. There were many times the house would become quiet and Lauren would be missing in action. I would go in her bedroom and she had crawled up on the bed and gone to sleep. Lauren has always relished in a nice nap/rest. Her daughter, work and training schedule don’t really permit that now, but some day Lauren, be encouraged, Sunday afternoon naps will once again be in your schedule! And then there was Elizabeth who slept 8 hours straight through the first night we brought her home from the hospital. I have always said God knew I was an exhausted mom who needed rest and so he gave me Elizabeth.
There were other ways they would reflect their own separate personalities……one distinct trait was how they kept their rooms. Elizabeth was the “neat” freak. She collected trolls when she was young and her sisters would go in and “mess” with them. Elizabeth always knew when they had been moved, touched, and even when their hair was out of place. Jennifer was the middle of the road in this regard. She would clean when I reminded her, so it was manageable….and then there was my precious Lauren :). Lauren and I had an agreement regarding her room. As long as it was in her room and the door was closed, I wouldn’t say anything. But if it crossed the threshold of the door, then it was fair game. I remember one time that there was this strange smell coming from Lauren’s room and we had to go in and investigate. The culprit ended up being a PB&J that was in the zip lock baggie in the top of her closet that had become a science experiment! I look back on those days today and smile. Smile that they were individuals but yet my little girls. God really taught me some things during those years. My advice to other Mom’s with young children: Be encouraged! Learn to embrace your children’s gifts and personalities. They are God wired. I wish I had knew about Grace Based Parenting and Dr. Kimmel during those early years.
So in February 1987, I had a 3 year old, a 2 year old and a newborn. Due to my personal circumstances, I re-entered the working world when Elizabeth was 6 weeks old. Due to childcare expense with three small children, I took a job with EDS and worked from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. to avoid the daycare expense. My daily routine would be that I would get home at 2 a.m., bed at 4 a.m., only to be up by 8 a.m. and ready to start the day with three little ones. On top of these hours, I drove an hour (one way) from Blue (Lexington) to Austin every day. I continued that 100 mile round trip drive until I left Lexington and moved in 2002. I look back at those days, and I have no idea how I did it. Only by the grace and strength of God and some amazing friends in Lexington that helped me by taking my girls to softball practice, softball games, band practice, football games, etc! I could not have done it with out you! Thank you!
Like many single mom’s today, life was not easy. There were financial concerns, the stress of being a single mom raising three children, and at the same time trying to create a career to improve my earning ability to support me and my children after being out of the workplace for several years. At one point, to make ends meet, it meant taking on another part time job at JC Penneys which in turn meant getting home late in the evenings.
So to my daughters I want to say:
Jennifer, Lauren, and Elizabeth:
I am so very sorry that I wasn’t always there for you at one point or another. There were times that the stress of being a young mom worried about bills, food, car, etc. and just the deep wounds and scars of life made me loose my temper and not handle things very well at times. I wish I could take those moments back and get a “do over”. But unfortunately life doesn’t work that way. I am so sorry I didn’t manage those early years after the divorce from your Dad very well. But I hope through it all you have always known how very much I love you. You know we parents don’t get a degree in parenting, or a user guide when our children arrive. We as parents are flawed human beings in a broken world that even in the best of circumstances we mess up. My only hope is that someday you will understand and perhaps come to appreciate that period of time. May it bring you strength to know that when difficult times come, you can do anything and God will see you through it. Even though none of us would have dreamed this would be our journey as a family, we are a product of our past and that past then becomes how we face the future. Each of you are stronger women, who have fought for your families and your marriages because of our past. We would not be who we are today without those events. I hope you always remember that. I also want you to know that I wanted a different relationship with my children than I had. I know there were and are times I have failed….and for those, I hope you will have the grace to forgive me. May you always strive to have a better relationship with your children than your parents. Remember, we are all works in progress until the day we are called home.
I want you to know that you are and will be my proudest accomplishment. You are my legacy after I leave this world and you are my loves and there is a place in my heart that only you can fill. You are the only people in this world that have heard my heartbeat from the inside of me! I have been so wonderfully blessed that God gave each of you specifically to me. You have made me so incredibly proud of each of you and the life you have created for yourselves. You each have a strength, grace and inner beauty that makes this momma proud! I am so thrilled that all of my children are independent and can take on whatever life brings your way. So, on this Mother’s Day, may God bless you and keep you. May His face shine upon you all the rest of the days of your life.
Jennifer, my eldest, who always watched out for your younger sisters……You are the worry wart and you are your hardest critic. That same characteristic has made you a person that perseveres, strives to excel in work and now in school. I can’t wait until you too can put your HORNS UP and see the UT tower lit up when you graduate! My prayer for you is to learn to stop and smell the roses and don’t sweat the small stuff…..because guess what? It really is ALL small stuff……really. This past year’s events have taught this to our family so don’t forget that lesson. And remember……I love you…….
Lauren, my middle daughter, who use to tell me that you were your own rainbow. You have an inner strength and fortitude that has made me so very proud. You are going to be an IRONMAN. That is truly amazing! You have a large circle of friends that is a testament to who you are as a person. And then there is that amazing daughter, Ava Michelle. She too is on her way to becoming a strong amazing woman. She has the right balance of being a princess one minute and fishing and hunting the next. And always remember……your momma loves you…….
Elizabeth, my baby girl, who always wanted to be the center of attention when you walked into a room as a small child. You had a twinkle in those pools of blue, the dimple and an amazing outlook on life. You were so resilient. Nothing in life ever kept you down very long. And my did you dream BIG! You were always dreaming about your career, your children, your husband and your family. I am so glad you discovered your passion in life…..being a Mom and being a make up artist. I will never forget when you were in high school in Round Rock and I would come home to a house full of girls and you were having one big beauty make-over session. Finding that gift would do you well as you grew older. All of your clients adored you…..your joy and the ability to calm all those nervous brides on their big day and the ability to make friends easily, made you a favorite with all your clients. Jesus, please tell Elizabeth that I love her……and hug her for me. Lizz, I miss you so very much, we all do. Life is not the same here without you in it…..but with God’s amazing grace, we are learning to live in our “new normal”. Have a great Mother’s Day with Fischer, Ben and Hayes this year in heaven. I wonder what Mother’s Day is like with Jesus’ mother Mary there? Pretty cool I would imagine! I will hold you and your memories in my heart until we are reunited one day.
I Love you all,
Growing up in Blue, Texas out in the country so to speak, three sisters became very close. There were no other children close in age nearby, so my daughters became each other’s playmates. For those reasons, they would become and remain close siblings throughout their lives. So, in honor of my three daughters and that special relationship I have created some videos that bring back some wonderful memories for me and hopefully reflect their relationship and just how special it truly was. I hope you enjoy them…..
To honor the relationship of three sisters:
Music: Sisters by Bette Midler and Linda Rondstadt
To honor the individualities of my daughters:
Music: Turn around by Kenny Loggins
And on this special Mother’s Day, I wanted to honor my daughter Lauren and share with you my granddaughter Ava Michelle Dowdy. She just turned six this March and as I was putting this video together it was a reminder of just how quickly she has grown! I know this is a little long (14:44), but please indulge me because as a Nana, I do think she is beautiful and for those friends and family that know Ava I don’t think you will mind (besides, it’s my blog right? LOL!). The majority of the pictures were taken by my middle daughter Lauren. I think she and her mommy, Lauren are pretty special. Lauren you have done an amazing job with Ava and know you are proud of the little girl she has become. You my daughter have been greatly blessed!
Music: Baby of Mine by Allison Kraus, My Girl by The Temptations, I hope you Dance by LeAnn Womack, Blessed by Martina McBride
My final video is my attempt to illustrate that we have become who we are because of our past and how we choose to apply those events to our lives. This video is to illustrate for my children their Mom’s past, their past, and who we are today is because of that history.
Music: The House that Built Me by Miranda Lambert
Last Mother’s Day, Elizabeth came to my house and while I was at work, she left me a coffee mug full of raisinets (my favorite candy) and a Mother’s Day card. The mug was Polish Pottery. She knew I collected Polish Pottery and found a mug to add to my collection.
I continue to believe God placed on her heart to be very deliberate and focused before she left us for heaven. This card would be one of last I would receive from her. I shared at her home going service what she wrote on the outside of the card. You will also notice, she signed it “Elizabeth” and not “Liz” :). This card continues to bring me comfort everytime I read it.
I also want to share a picture of a coffee mug that my girls gave me one year when they were small (so I am sure their Dad bought it, so thank you Jeff). I was going to sell this mug in a garage sale and Elizabeth pulled it out of the box and said: Mom! You can’t sell this! I remember you drinking out of this all the time! (Obviously, I drank lots of caffeine to survive those night shifts and long drives) She then asked me if she could have it which of course I replied: “Sure!” When we cleaned out the kitchen cabinets from the house in Salado, this mug was in her kitchen cabinet. I was thrilled when Sam returned it to me. It is one of my treasures.
So……to my friends who are Moms, have a blessed day with your children. And remember:
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff, because it is ALL small stuff, and
2. Raise your children in a house of grace.
3. It is about His glory!
To Him who has overcome, all honor, glory and praise! AMEN!