Finding Meaning

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Happy Mother’s Day

By Skip Hellewell
By Skip Hellewell

We’ve examined the process of finding meaning in past columns.  But we haven’t acknowledged a hard reality: there’s a price.  You must make an investment—of yourself.  There’s only so much of you to spread around, so it’s a big decision. Meaning requires sacrifice, sweat, stress and strain for a good cause. Meaning isn’t found on Easy Street; it’s found on the steep, climbing trails of life. It’s hard, but when achieved there’s nothing better.  Which brings us to this week’s topic: the meaning found in motherhood.

Does any life endeavor demand more sacrifice, sweat, stress and strain than being a mom?  Name a career demanding more patience, loyalty, kindness, wisdom, and understanding.  Is there a profession that requires the changing of over 5,000 soiled diapers for each product?  All things considered, the decision to conceive a child is one of life’s big choices.  Due to modern contraception, it’s more a choice than ever, and this introduces a new lifestyle term: childfree.  It’s more than “childless” because it suggests a life without anyone’s children around.  It’s a touchy subject to discuss, but considering all that parenthood entails, it seems better to do it by willful choice than back into it by accident.

The arrival of a baby is a magical and life-changing event.  I have a clear memory of meeting my first child, a son. He added substance to our young marriage, something precious to protect. The poet Wordsworth spoke of how infants arrive “trailing clouds of glory.”  Parents rear children, but the children rear, and teach, the parents also. It’s transformational.  The pastors of our churches know the arrival of a child increases the parents’ church affiliation.  An interesting book posits that the decline of religious affiliation by the so-called “nones,” is less about a decline of faith and more a reflection of young people having babies later in life.

I watch the young moms of our community with the greatest respect.  Like many, I look for chances to compliment and encourage them.  They’re in the toughest years of their lives.  But they’re also the most meaningful years.  Our own children have moved on and started their families. We have more peace and quiet now, but we also have less joy and laughter. We miss those busy years, with all the coming and going and excitement.  Of course, there is the joy of grandchildren, and the peaceful quiet after they leave is nice.  Maybe the best thing I can say to parents is to be sure to enjoy these busy years. They pass all too soon.

Can I tell about my own Mom?  She’s 98 this year, mentally alert, has a driver’s license, and lives independently. Her father was a hard-rock miner who died of pneumonia when she was just two years old.  She and her mother barely survived the Depression. With my Dad, she had a typical family of four children.  Then a surprise child came; thinking he shouldn’t grow up alone they had two more to give him playmates. Then my Dad’s brother died in an accident; a few years later the wife died of cancer, leaving three children orphaned. What could my parents do but invite them into their home? So, if you’ve been counting, my Mom reared a mixture of 10 kids and cousins. There’s a family picture taken on their 25thwedding anniversary. I love it because it catches her at the peak of her motherhood, working as hard as a person can, fully invested in the success of her children. Sometimes she’s sad on Mother’s Day; not everything turned out as she hoped.  It’s part of being a mom.  But there’s a lot of joy when she sends out the many, many cards and notes marking the family milestones.

God bless our moms.  There wouldn’t be a we without them. And a sincere, Happy Mother’s Day.

Skip fell in love with Laguna on a ‘50s surfing trip.  He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of “Loving Laguna: A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach.”  Email: [email protected]

 

Places to worship (all on Sunday, unless noted):

Baha’i’s of Laguna Beach—contact [email protected] for events and meetings.

Chabad Jewish Center, 30804 S. Coast Hwy, Fri. 6 p.m., Sat. 10:30 a.m., Sun. 8 a.m.

Church by the Sea, 468 Legion St., 9 & 10:45 a.m.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), 682 Park Ave., 10 a.m.

First Church of Christ, Scientist, 635 High Dr., 10 a.m.

ISKCON (Hare Krishna), 285 Legion St., 5 p.m., with 6:45 feast.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, 20912 Laguna Canyon Rd., 1:00 p.m.

Laguna Beach Net-Works, 286 St. Ann’s Dr., 10 a.m.

Laguna Presbyterian, 415 Forest Ave., 8:30 & 10 a.m.

Neighborhood Congregational Church (UCC), 340 St. Ann’s Drive, 10 a.m.

United Methodist Church, 21632 Wesley, 10 a.m.

St. Catherine of Siena (Catholic), 1042 Temple Terrace, 7:30, 9, 11, 1:30 p.m. (Spanish), 5:30 p.m.  There are 8 a.m. masses on other days and Saturday 5:30 p.m. vigils.

St. Francis by the Sea (American Catholic), 430 Park, 9:30 a.m.

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 428 Park Ave., 8 & 10:30 a.m.

Unitarian Universalist, 429 Cypress St., 10:30 a.m.

 

 

 

 

 

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