My boys are ages 6 and 8 now. I am snuggled up with one on my recliner, barely able to type these words. He has his baby blanket around his shoulders as he watches cartoons. I don’t want him to move, because he is warm and sweet and still so very much my baby. I think that across the country, a 32 year old woman was just freed from ten years of captivity, and as of today, her mother still has not seen her. Her missing persons case was closed a few years after her disappearance, and apparently no one cared enough to keep looking for her. I read her story last night and was haunted through my sleep.
Motherhood is mysterious to me. I love it more than anything I’ve ever done in my life, and I’ve had the opportunity to do some pretty cool things. Swimming with dolphins is a close second, but even my hard to explain love for whales doesn’t compare to the joy I receive snuggling with my little boys at bedtime. Motherhood is an incredible gift – that comes with incredible obligations. The obligation apart from loving the gift is crushing. 2 Timothy 3:3 mentions those who are heartless (ESV) or without natural affections (KJV). Without the affection that comes naturally to so many women, great, heartless evil can be perpetuated on vulnerable children by the one who should be nurturing them. I’ve talked about Daddy Issues on this blog a number of time. Both men and women struggle throughout life with baggage thrust upon them by fathers who condemned or abandoned instead of loved and nurtured. But Mommy Issues can not be over emphasized either. The love of a mother goes far and deep toward helping our children learn to trust and bond. And a mother’s abandonment or condemnation can wound a child with a pain that lasts throughout their lives.
I love that God uses the imagery of a mother and her child in Isaiah 49 to reinforce His love for His children. Her compassion for her children is a close example of God’s compassion and faithfulness to His. But even she may forget her children. God, however, will not. He gives profound value to the love of a mother, but He sets Himself up as One of even greater love and commitment to His children. It is beautiful to me as a mother, and it is even more beautiful to me as God’s child.
13 Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted. 14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” 15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”
My boys are ages 6 and 8 now. I feel that I am right in the middle of the best years of motherhood. The earlier years with my boys were filled with the stress of just keeping them alive. Nurture was often boiled down to feeding and carrying infants. Now, though I still help with food and safety, I nurture their souls. We communicate more and more. Our conversations grow deeper as they navigate new social situations at school and other places. I can teach them more of God’s character, and they are at the age where they will remember for a lifetime the conversations we have and the example I set.
The obligations of motherhood are staggering. This morning, my 8 year old woke me out of a sound sleep before anyone else in the house was up to let me know there was a spider in his bed. And, so, Mother’s Day begins. Obligation after obligation. The drip, drip, drip of childhood need could feel like torture. But those obligations are wrapped up in a profound love, a natural affection, for these ones who have constant needs. And that love is the oil that keeps the machine of motherhood running in my life. Motherhood, like all the Law and the Prophets, boils down to the Greatest Command.
Matthew 22:36-40 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
*If you are hurting this Mothers’ Day weekend, here is a beautiful post from my sweet friend, Bina, on weeping with those who weep at this time of year.*