Saturday, May 10, 2008


Who do I honor on this day? My mother, who sits alone in an assisted living unit, diminished by Alzheimers enough that my love is true, but is neither easily come by, nor related to her being my mother? But I will call her, and she will feel honored, and that is well enough, I suppose.

Or perhaps I honor the man who made me a mother. He shares the burden of parenting, and makes me--easily--a better mother. When our children were young, and I was frazzled so that my hair was standing on end every day, and my temper standing beyond that, he soothed us all daily. As we all grew up, I calmed and that was very good--for all of us. So happy Mother's day to you, Beve.

But really, it's about the three--J, E, SK--who have honored me. Honored me by facts of their beings, from the first suspicions--unexpected (yes, for us, each time!) but by the time I felt them, a great delight. A kick within and the press of my hand to search for it, the sense that this--those pokes and jabs a real human being!--might be the very definition of joy. God was working, creating--their 'frames not hidden from God when they were made in that that secret place.' That place the Psalmist was talking about, that womb, was mine. Could there be anything bigger than this? But there was bigger joy--and it was in the meeting of them, the getting to know them. The knowing, and holding and loving them. If I lean back this morning, I can remember how their scalps felt in the palm of my hand, and how, when I held them up against my shoulder, I could smell their fresh, unused baby scent. Then they'd let out a milky breath against my neck, and I'd close my eyes and breath it in. I remember that. And I remember when they screamed for no apparent reason, or when they hit each other, and said 'no' all the time. The first time I said no to E, when she sat in her high chair holding a tipping cup, and I just knew she was going to tip it over, and even when I said no, she did. I remember when J dumped his bear out of his crib over and over, and how he bit SK on the head. I remember SK with a thumb in her mouth and a hand on her blankie--the blankie that was supposed to be for her doll, but never got there. I remember days when I was so tired of being alone with them, with no time for anything but them, that I felt like crying. And I remember knowing SK would be our last, and how she charmed even the nurses in the hospital by her tiny beauty, and later by her curly smiles. How J told everyone in the world exactly what he thought about whatever it was he thought--and we should have guessed he'd always be that way. How E always had a list in her head of the things we'd mentioned during the day, things that she took to be plans--"We didn't go to the library!" How J liked machines, and SK liked dolls and E liked numbers and patterns. How they always had more energy than me, and I was ganged up on more than once, I swear I was.

All these days we've lived together on this earth--I treasure them like Mary, hold them in my heart. How precious they are to me, how thoroughly unexpected. That E is just like Beve, steady and confident--I should have seen that in her chubby, adorable baby face. That J is cerebral and a truth-teller--it was there, hidden in his cuddles and open smile. And that SK delights in being on stage, acting and singing her heart out, but also singing to Jesus--that was right beneath the curls on her tiny heart-shaped head. Everything they are today was there all along, ready to be discovered. And my job--this most-called, most-desired, most-thankful-for job of my life (with the giant they call Dad or Daddy, depending on their mood and need), was to train them in those things/ those ways they already were going, how God had already created them to be. And to stay out of their way so we wouldn't mess up His plan for their life. But I always said, we weren't raising children, we were raising adults. We haven't always been successful--we're human, after all. But today is not about the tally (they have plenty of time to go to therapy about me!). Today is about being grateful. And so I say, thank-you. To God, for His exceedingly marvelous gift of children. And for my children, for the exceedingly wonderful gift of themselves. For what you've brought to my life. For what you will bring, for how you challenge, stimulate, confront and never let me get away with anything. To turn the tables, on this day, when none of you is home (for the first time!), Happy Mother's Day.
I love you all.

1 comment:

hbarnes said...

thank you for this. for those of us reeling in the aftermath of being mothered while holding to the tenuous hope of someday being one, thank you.