By Heidi Hess Saxton
My life is at a unique crossroads at this particular moment: My son turned eighteen this year, and tomorrow marks the 16th anniversary of our “forever family.” Sweet sixteen(!) It was also right around this time last year (Mother’s Day) when my husband and I decided to start the process of bringing mom to live with us. I have officially become part of the “sandwich generation.” And so the first lines of the first reading today (I Peter 1:18-25) caught my eye …
Realize that you were ransomed from your futile conduct handed on by your ancestors,
not with perishable things like silver or gold
but with the precious Blood of Christ as of a spotless, unblemished Lamb….
For sixteen years my husband and I have been on the front lines in the battle of nurture vs. nature, hoping to help our children to fully embrace their calling as children of God, despite their early experiences. And for far longer than that, I have been doing my best to embrace my own adoption, resisting the nature of my first parents, Adam and Eve, in order to live like a daughter of the King.
Last night I found myself in the middle of a chaotic exchange between my teenage daughter, my elderly mother, and myself. My husband was gone, and both of them were unhappy with me for reasons that made no sense to me. (I chalked my daughter’s tantrum up to teenage hormones, my mother’s up to dementia. Mine, simply to the resentment of being squeezed into an impossible situation.) When will it end? I kept asking myself. When will the nonsense end?
It was tempting to hold a ginormous pity party for myself. Or simply to put my foot firmly down, and insist that it was “my way or the highway.” But what would that have done? It would have led to a stubborn standoff, each of us retreating to our separate spaces feeling resentful, bullied, and misunderstood. Instead I took a deep breath.
“I think we need to lighten things up a bit — how about a game of Scrabble?” I pulled out the board I’d inherited from my maternal grandmother, a Scrabble shark if ever there was one. Mom’s eyes lit up … dementia or no, she can always give me a run for my money. And Sarah likes nothing more than to see her mother beaten, fair and square.
I drew my seven tiles, then made my play: d-a-r-n-e-d. Six letters, not bad. Double points.
I heard an intake of breath, then with slightly shaking hands my mom built on my final “d”: F-I-N-I-S-H-E-D. Using all her tiles, she put her score light-years ahead of mine. She caught my eye, the triumphant gleam unmistakable. “You’re FINISHED!” she crowed.
Not quite, Mom. But someday. Someday.
About the Author:
Heidi is a wife and adoptive mother, contributing writer to WINE, and author of Advent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta and the follow-up companion, Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Servant, released January 2017). Heidi received a graduate degree in theology from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit in 2012, having converted to the Catholic faith in 1995 from the evangelical tradition. She met her husband, Craig, at the University of Michigan Ballroom Dance Club, and lives with her family (including two special-needs teenagers, a longsuffering Aussie shepherd and a snuggly Chiweenie) near South Bend, Indiana.