Sunday, May 12, 2013

Oh, cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby. Babies don't keep.

(From Song for a Fifth Child, by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton, found at

I can attest to just how fast little ones become big ones. This weekend, my oldest graduated from college. My life has been pretty well taken up with the constant commotion of him and his seven younger siblings, but more often lately I stop, breathless, to consider how quickly the years have gone.

In just six weeks or so, the first of his younger sisters is getting married, as well. Her dearest hope is to be a mother, and I consider that the greatest compliment she could pay me, that somehow I’ve done this job well enough that she walks into her future, clear eyed and willing to embrace this hardest of all professions.

Who am I, that God would call me to be a mother? But call me, He did, though I was so sure I’d ruin whatever children He sent me. They are not without brokenness, for sure, being mine, and also heirs to the flawed psyches of all Adam and Eve’s offspring. But overall? They are brilliant, talented, funny, sensitive, and strong.

And I am blessed to be their mother. They are woven into the fabric of who I am, and without them, I would not have half the potential for understanding life that I do.

My only regret is that too often, I let myself be caught up in the everydayness of tending a family—the cooking and cleaning and wiping noses and shuttling people here and there—and too often forgot to stop and just make eye contact or gather a child into my arms. But it was always a comfort to me, in the years when I was continuously pregnant, nursing, and chasing after my little ones, that God’s heart is tender toward mothers and little ones.

I thought often on that verse in Isaiah that talks about Him carrying the little ones, and gently leading those who are with young. I wondered often whether He gives mothers special dispensation during those busy years, or if it was just that sense of me and my little ones being held close to His heart. Either way, I know He understands. Jesus Himself, during His time on earth, knew what it felt like to be pulled in multiple directions, with people clamoring to have their needs met, with no real recognition of who He was, or the big picture of life.

You might say ... God Himself has intimate knowledge of the rigors of motherhood.

11 He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young. (Isaiah 40)

14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4, all NKJV)


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