In the (nearly) four years and 9 months that I have been a mother, I've been given many "Mother's" gifts. Every year, at this time, my thoughtful husband has sought out some sweet card, cooked some delicious meal or made brunch or dinner plans, and given me some generous and often sacrificial gift.
He's a real keeper, that man of mine.
He's the kind of husband that makes being a mother to small children so much more... doable. He is kind. He helps. He anticipates the need for an occasional pizza night based on the days' events. He sacrifices his own comfort on a regular basis to allow me bits of quiet time by myself. He knows how much this energizes me. He knows that just a bit of time to be alone and think.. or read... or write or browse Target with an Iced Coffee in hand literally helps me be a better mother. He doesn't expect or desire that I "do it all" all the time. He is my best friend and my teammate at this parenting thing. Being a mother next to a father like him, it's the kind of gift I would wish for every mom.
I remember the night I became a mother (well, the night she was born... technically I became a mother about 9 months before that.) It was 9:19PM when I saw and heard this little bundle of pink burst into this world with a very sweet and disgruntled cry. The Dr. (whom I'll always believe saved both our lives) lifted her up and I saw her tiny mouth drawn up in displeasure at being pulled from her nice warm spot.
She turns four in two weeks. FOUR. (This mama is in denial like you wouldn't believe.)
Three years later she was joined by another little pink one, also displeased at being evicted from her cozy spot. Except this time, there was no polite cry. She screamed her blessed head off. So much so that I distinctly remember hearing the nurse and the anesthesiologist say, "Whoa. She is MAD."
She turned 15 months old this week and she has a zest for life and everything in it like I never imagined.
They are growing so much faster than I would choose. But isn't that one of the greatest gifts of all? Being able to witness them growing? Sometimes at night, I peek in on them. Watch them sleeping. Pull up the covers under their little chins and whisper things I want them to know. Those moments usually catch in my throat and I leave their room quietly, soberly thanking God for entrusting them to us.
I think one of the basic common lamentations of all mothers of small children is how fast they grow. Everyone always told me (and still tells me!)
"Hold on to every precious moment."
"They'll be in college before you know it."
"Enjoy these days. They won't always be so small."
I've tried to heed their advice. Really, I have. I try to take the pictures. Write the blog posts. Write the funny things they say in my little book of quotes. Play "Go Fish" and leave the laundry a bit longer.
But what no one ever prepared me for was the heart-wrenching beauty and wonder of actually witnessing them grow. As in, grow before my very eyes. Like watching a flower bloom in elevated speed.
That's enough to make you feel like your heart's going to burst wide open with joy, pride and pain all at the same time.
It's obvious when I look at pictures of a few years or even months ago. It's clear when I fold up last season's clothes that were practically hanging off them at the beginning of the quarter. It's ever so evident when I notice them doing or saying something new.
But it is so very startling when I see traces of my babies still in these faces that are changing every day. As Lucy's face becomes more and more that of a little girl (mere months from going to school!) and less of a sweet, round baby-faced toddler-- I want to stop time right in its tracks. Lately I have noticed it more when she laughs or cries. Funny, how those two emotions, so different from one another, but they both have been seen on her face since she was a wee baby. I hope she keeps those traits all her life. I hope she keeps a bit of innocence and delight for the rest of her days.
Sometimes I instigate tickle fights just to see her face light up with the hilarious laughter that reminds me of my little cherub faced itty bitty thing.
And I know that she will just continue to grow and change and grow and change. As will her sister.
I know I am powerless to keep them small. I would never want to. (Well, okay sometimes I do.) But I never want to clutch my fingers around their "baby-ness" in mock ownership of two little people who belong to HIM and have merely been entrusted to us for a season. I never, ever want to stand in the way of His teaching and growing and drawing them to Himself.
I only hope to be WORTHY and FAITHFUL and point them to God one day at a time.
So for all the Mother's Day gifts I've been given. All the times I've been praised or encouraged or blessed for being a mom--
The greatest gift of all,
is simply being used. The best honor I could ever be given is this role.
This seemingly (to some) insignificant task of leading little ones.
This front row seat of watching these little souls grow (every day) to know a little bit more of who they are, and why they are here.
Let us all love them LAVISHLY and be humbled at the GIFT of raising them up.