A funny thing has happened to me with age. As a teen I had a strong sense of my talents and character strengths and felt confident in my actions. I felt that if I didn't accomplish my goals well it was only because I chose not to and felt the only way to go was up! Since then, I seem to have gotten a bit rusty. Or maybe my vision of reality has cleared a bit. I don't seem to be able to do anything with the mastery and success that I would like. It's a little (or a lot) painful to give 110% and constantly fall short anyway.
Time has changed many things. More is required of me since I have more people relying on me. My energy is divided, my temper shorter. My broom sweeps up the last crumb and the toilet overflows before I have put the broom away. While I'm cleaning up the toilet water, crumbs have somehow reappeared on the swept floor. My motherly words of wisdom are beginning to fall on the all-knowing and superior ears of my *gasp* teenager! I was amazingly wise and wonderful as the mother of two toddlers. A female Solomon to be sure! I seem to have lost my touch with 5. This on-the-job training is brutal.
But there is one moment when I am absolutely perfect.
Last night, my two-year old was sweating with a fever. Her body was limp as I held her in my arms. I held her close to me and she stared at me with her sleepy sick eyes. "Mommy's here, baby." She reached out one hot little hand and stroked my hair. She touched my eyes and pulled on my ears. She pulled my cheek tightly to her own. Then she turned over and tried to sleep. I stayed with her while the storm raged outside. Her eyes would open when the thunder rumbled and she made sure I was near before closing them again.
I was comforted as I held her. At this moment, I was a perfect mother. I was holding and comforting my sick little girl and I wasn't messing it up. When she was resting comfortably, I went to the next room to spend time with my husband. Before I left I told her to "Call me if you need me, okay?" She nodded, turned over and closed her eyes. A few minutes later, a loud thunder clap startled her awake and I heard a little call. I hurried to the side of the couch she was on. She looked me in the eyes and said "You need me, mommy."
I did need her. I needed her in that moment in time to allow me to be perfect. Just this once. Perfectly attentive to my vocation and in obedience to love. If I did nothing else well yesterday, I did love my toddler perfectly during her night of illness.
I had time later that night to reflect on the blessing of the early years of motherhood. Mothering an infant is not easy but it is relatively simple. When they cry, we see if they are hungry or lonely or sick or uncomfortable or bored...and we meet the need. And when we don't know why they cry we hold them anyway to let them know our presence. Sometimes we do that all night. Sometimes we cry with them in the distress of our fatigue. Babies give me confidence in this way. They are so needy and simple. All I have to do is offer my presence.
As my children grow, I also grow to know and love them more and more. But mothering them is never as simple as the total physical donation required of mothering an infant. How many nights have I spent in absolute weariness of spirit begging the Lord to show me how to mother these older children well? They really are wonderful kids and I wouldn't trade them for the world. Still, they are individuals with free will and I am an imperfect mother.
Last night, I had the opportunity to be perfect again for a moment. It was a beautiful reminder of the blessing of my unborn child as well. I have yet another opportunity to meet the needs of a child perfectly. I won't always have babies to nurture and I recognized the gift.
Call me when you need me, little one. "You need me, Mommy."
"Lo, children are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. " -- Psalm 127