The best gift I ever gave my children would have to be doing what I could to give them a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with whatever integrity God has graced me with. But next to that?
Best thing I ever did for my children was giving them the mother they have.
I've had reason to think that again and again. I had reason again last night.
Every human in my house except me is in various stages of a cold. My 13yos is almost over it, my dear wife Valerie is cycling, and my 9yos Jonathan has just had a relapse. He'd had it, then he seemed about 95% recovered on Wednesday, but had a setback Thursday and Friday.
My dear Jonathan, in my late mother's words, "Suffers well" — meaning he's pretty dramatic. There are lots of moans and whimpers, and he falls apart easily. Josiah is more stoic; Valerie hates being sick at all; I'm seldom sick (too old and mean), but when I am I vary between Josiah and Jonathan.
So Jonathan was very "puny," as we say, suffering lustily, coughing and being miserable. I cuddled him before bedtime and rubbed on the vaporub. Then my wife and I spent time together, and when we went off towards bed, Jonathan was awake and unhappy.
We both went in and sat with him and comforted him awhile. Then Valerie stayed to snuggle and comfort him, and told me to get off to bed. (I'd been awake around 20 hours.) So I eventually did.
As I drifted off, I thought about Valerie, and thanked God (again) for her. What a dedicated mother Valerie is, and always has been. Every one of our children, she's shown this kind of sacrificial care and devoted love. Always thinking of better ways to homeschool them, good experiences and trips to expose them to, ways to help them and point them in the right direction. She's painstakingly made amazing clothes and costumes for Rachael (now 25) and Matthew (now 21), cared for them when sick, scolded and encouraged and taught and played with and loved them.
Valerie so deserves devotion and appreciation and love and respect and honor from them all.
She surely has mine.
So, I've given my kids my own love and care and toys and time and all. But next to the Gospel, the best thing I ever gave them was a superb, amazing, devoted, never-ceasing-to-astonish mother.
I've done so many things wrong in my life, made so many bad decisions.
That wasn't one of them.
And now, since I'm blessed with readers from all stages of life:
Word to husbands. Need I say more?
But especially, word to would-be husbands. Remember, boys: you aren't merely choosing fun company or sexual release. You're choosing a person created in the image of God, whom you are to serve, lead and cherish; a partner to fill and round you out in your service to God — and a mother for your children.
And finally, word to children. You have a mother anything like that? And you aren't regularly looking for concrete ways to show her honor and love, and to say "Thank you" to her?