Based on her extraordinary life experience, knowledge and wisdom, my mother, who joyfully raised such a large family, could have contributed to the greater good by answering some of today's questions about how to raise children. She talked often about how children can suffer from the choices parents make if they don't put their children's needs and welfare first. She'd say, "Even when families have both parents living under the same roof, parents can miss the joys right in front of them by being too distracted from their children, whether from working long hours just to put food on the table, or from chasing fame and fortune."
By contrast, Mom would always hear her children's cry when they needed attention, and she always took a stand for us when she felt something needed to be said to secure our rights or our futures. She knew that her children depended on their parents, and although we as kids may not have liked or wanted to hear what they had to say, our parents knew best. Looking back, when we matured and grew in wisdom, we realized their words were sacred.
A Mother's Wisdom
When my daughter was just 2 years old and my first husband's company wasn't doing well, I took a part-time job as a hairstylist on Saturdays to make some extra money while he stayed with our daughter. I loved working and being with other adults, and my boss wanted me to work more than one day a week. I wanted to accept, but noticed that Mom was not very supportive when I told her about this plan. When I asked why, she told me that my daughter was much too young to even consider leaving, and that I could go back to work when she started school in a few years. She also told me that I had the rest of my life to focus on my career, and that this was not the time to do so because it was my responsibility to nurture her before she started school. After that, I stopped working entirely because I couldn't stand having Mom upset with me and I trusted her wisdom. I never regretted my decision, because by the time she started first grade, I was a widow with the full responsibility of providing for both of us. I realize now that those first five years were of the utmost importance for my daughter in helping to maintain her sense of well-being during such a trying time for both of us.
Another example of Mom's wisdom came when my sisters and I were visiting her. Our children were with us, and ranged in ages from 3 to 5 years old. While the children were joyfully laughing and playing, my sisters and I were busy talking about the latest clothing and hair fashions, and chatted about what was going on with our lives. Mom suddenly asked us why we were wasting time with small talk and missing out on the greatest gifts that were right in front of us, meaning the children right under our noses.
Another time when we were visiting her, Mom asked one of my sisters, "How do you have time to dress yourself up so perfectly and put on makeup with two little children running around?" This was understandable, since Mom had never had the extra help from Dad that my sister's husband gave her. In Mom's time, a mother's job was done at home, full-time, and it didn't come with lunch breaks or time-outs, and Dad didn't have today's kind of hands-on involvement raising us. For Mom, her children were her first priority, a purpose that for her came directly from God.
Once, when one of my sisters was upset that her husband was not meeting her needs in some way, Mom told us not to focus on what she saw as trivial things. She said that if we kept our minds on the children, everything else would work itself out. Mom found the greatest peace and joy through her children, and we are all richly blessed by remembering her words and lessons. I have found every one of them to be true and helpful guides.
Most parents want their children's lives to be abundant and want to give them more than they had. But sometimes the only help they can give is by sharing what they've learned through their own life experience, telling their children the best of what they know. If we listen to them with love, respect, and honor, we will have the best chance of reaching greater heights in our own lives. Looking back at my parents' wisdom, regardless of what we think we know, they still probably knew better!
What Was Her Secret?
How did Mom manage to raise a huge family and gain so much love and respect from all of us? She told us endless stories of her life -- and I remember all of them. None of her wisdom came from books; she was far too busy to read. It wasn't from formal education, since she never attended high school. And it didn't come from wealth or fame; she was never concerned about such things. In truth, Mom's wisdom didn't come from anything outside of her own soul, whose messages were from God.
In writing this book, I have gained a greater understanding of my mother's life. I also have a better insight into her holiness and the crown of grace and glory she wore, one she richly deserved. Mom's inner joy, which she radiated, was based in her absolute dependence on God. Her love and service toward everyone gave her a happy, successful life. She often told us that nothing about us is as important as the joy and privilege of serving others, especially our own children, because "They can't speak for themselves." From the seventeen miracles of life that came through our mother, I know she reached that place of hearing God while she was here on Earth with us. And what a powerful thing to know!
Catherine Nagle ~ Imprinted Wisdom
Photo credit: October 10, 1958 Philadelphia Inquirer and Newspapers
About Catherine Nagle: Catherine grew up in Philadelphia with 16 brothers and sisters, reared by loving, old school Italian parents. Catherine's artist father's
works graced locations from churches to public buildings; her mother was a full-time homemaker. A professional hairdresser, Catherine worked in various salons while studying the Bible and pursuing spiritual growth through courses, seminars, lectures and inspirational books, including A Course in Miracles and the works of Marianne Williamson among many others. The mother of two children and a grandmother, Catherine lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and son. She is the Author of Imprinted Wisdom.