A Mother's Thankful Prayers

My son hadn’t spoken to me for two years, not since I divorced his dad. Prayer was all I had to help me find a way back into his life.

By Sheryl Smith-Rodgers, Blanco, Texas

As appeared in

Tomorrow was Thanksgiving, but I sure didn’t feel grateful. Dragging myself around the kitchen, I pulled my chocolate-swirled cheesecake out of the oven and set it on the counter to cool.

Not even its sweet aroma could get me in the holiday mood. It just made me think of my teenage son, Patrick, and how much he used to love digging into a thick slice. But he wouldn’t be at the table at my parents’ house. He didn’t want to have anything to do with me.

He had been giving me the silent treatment for nearly two and a half years. He was 15 when his father and I divorced, and he blamed me for it. The day I moved out, my daughter, Lindsey, came with me. Patrick didn’t. He didn’t even say goodbye. Whenever I called, he barely spoke.

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He blocked my e-mails. I invited him over for his favorite, sloppy joes–he ignored me. The only time I saw him was when I caught a glimpse of him driving his pickup truck around town, or when I dropped by the feed store where he worked.

I’d hoped that he could put aside his anger for Thanksgiving–didn’t he want to tease his little sister and fill up on turkey with cornbread dressing? But instead he volunteered to work at the store for his boss.

Patrick and I used to do everything together. I hadn’t gone back to work after he was born. I’d strap him in a pouch on my back when I took long hikes in the woods. I pulled him around in a little red wagon until we wore out the rubber wheels.

I baked for his holiday parties at school, read aloud to his class and chaperoned their field trips. After all those years of being such a big part of my son’s life, how was I supposed to be satisfied with getting tidbits about him from his sister?

Lord, I miss Patrick so much, I prayed. Can’t you help me be his mom again? Friends suggested buying him little gifts, or offering to take him out to dinner. I tried everything. But each attempt seemed to push him further away. Like the last time I’d seen him, a few weeks back…

That afternoon, fed up with all the ignored calls and e-mails, I’d driven to the feed store and found his pickup truck unlocked. I climbed in and waited for him to get off work. He can’t ignore me here. Maybe we can finally talk, I thought.

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But when Patrick came out and saw me in the front seat, his expression turned stony.

He slid behind the wheel. “Can you get out, please?” he said. It was more a statement than a question.

“Can we talk, Patrick?” I pleaded.

“I’m going to say it once more–please get out, Mother.” I shook my head. “Then do me a favor and lock both doors before you leave,” he snapped, sliding back out, slamming the door behind him. He climbed into a friend’s car and they sped away.

I sat there for a moment, shaking. Then I got out, pressed the lock button and slowly shut the door. Why did it feel like I was closing the door on a lot more than his truck?

No wonder I don’t feel thankful, I thought now, washing the cake batter from my bowls. What was it that my pastor had said last Sunday? He’d started out quoting I Thessalonians, “In everything give thanks.” Everything?

“Instead of asking God for things you want, try thanking him for what he’s given you,” he’d suggested. Okay, I thought, as I put the dishes in the rack to dry, what blessings had I overlooked in my desperation to reconnect with my son?

I could be thankful for all the time I’d spent with Patrick as he was growing up. I could be thankful that he was a good kid, that he was working hard in school, that he had some close friends.

I could be thankful for Lindsey and how supportive she’d been, and for the strong relationship she had with Patrick. I could be thankful that we were all healthy. There was a lot to remember. I decided to add thankfulness to my prayers.