Sunday, May 9, 2010
Sister likes to make people feel appreciated. She especially likes to make me feel appreciated when she seeing storm clouds coming quickly across my forehead. And so she will say, “You are the best mom I ever had.” She is sincere and I accept the blue ribbon, even if I am the only contestant.
She also asks if I am going to be her mom for her whole life. Sometimes the question feels backhanded. It really is just a matter of timing. Sometimes she asks while being disciplined. Sometimes she asks after I have said no to mid-afternoon candy. But once she asked while we were snuggling and watching the sun set over the ocean. And one other time she asked as I was bandaging her knee. If I answer yes, and I always answer yes, then she follows up with the second standard question, “Will I be your daughter for my whole life?” And I answer yes. And smile as I think of what her whole life may contain.
When Sister was born we let her sleep on her tummy, which was a serious social taboo and earned me an earful and a note in my file at the pediatrician. But it was the only way she would sleep. And we could see, although we were new, that she had the strength to roll over and lift her head should she find herself face-down in trouble. But I worried anyway. And cried as I imagined the darkest outcomes of our flagrant parenting. And so I prayed as I put her to sleep every night that God would hold her until the morning. After months of interpreting the nocturnal silence from across the hall, blinders fell off and I saw the panorama. God was God, not just of Sister’s sleeping hours, but of all the days ordained for her. So instead of praying for one safe night’s rest, I began to pray for her long and fruitful life. And imagined the baby in my arms, toothless again at ninety. And was able to set her down in her crib without fear.
Motherhood for me has been more Picasso than Seurat. Seasons of Dali with days of North Dakota through the eyes of Andrew Wyeth. But there has also been joy. And richness. And peace. And glimpses of God.
Images of babies with their mamas are beautiful, captivating artists across the centuries. There is sometime right and whole and eternal about them. Perhaps because they collapse the great cosmic relationship of God and man to what it was intended to be: a family portrait. Not just of a Heavenly Father with his children, but a full picture of God, as he described himself, embodying what is good about a mother’s love for her children.
And so today I find myself grateful. For my children. For our birthmother, who made this family possible. For a good and gracious God who has promised to carry my children through all their days. And for his daily tendings, by which my feeble heart is strengthened for this sacred duty.
“As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you. And you will be comforted over Jerusalem.” Isaiah 66:13