It is 1986, the kind of August morning that promises rain. At 6:30, I am tiptoeing through the kitchen like a burglar, carrying a basket brimming with dirty laundry. My two-month-old daughter sleeps peacefully in the other end of the house. Her early feeding done, I am determined to get a head-start on the day—something I haven't done since bringing her home from the hospital. Besides, it's been a week since I opened the clothes hamper; things are getting a bit smelly.
Being a mother is amazing. I love my child so fiercely it’s frightening. But there’s another side to motherhood. Until my daughter's birth, I never knew the true meaning of the word, "tired.” I never realized how little sleep you can actually exist on. The days creep into the nights, leaving me exhausted and wondering if I will even live to see her start to school.
With heavy hands, I load the washing machine, sneak into the kitchen, put on a pot of coffee. In the darkness, I sit waiting for the brew to finish. I am exhausted. The living room resembles a garage sale. It's been weeks since I looked at a newspaper, listened to the news, heard my favorite song. My world revolves around a plump little girl named Anna Marie who makes great smacking noises and smells of baby powder and cotton gowns, and, occasionally, something a lot less pleasant.
As I gulp down the last swallow of coffee, I have one wish: three hours of uninterrupted sleep. But just as I sit the cup on the table, Anna Marie announces herself with great gusto. I can’t believe she is awake again. Didn’t I just put her down?
I rush to her bed, scoop up my bellowing angel, change her soaking diaper, powder her little behind, kiss her rosy face, then settle into the rocking chair in the corner. Holding her close, I am awed by her beauty, by the way she slaps my chest with her tiny hand while gulping down her breakfast… or is it lunch already? She is perfectly content. All of her needs have been met.
Suddenly and without warning, I have thoughts that surprise me. After all, I'd waited and prayed for a baby for four years, but there they were, selfish thoughts. When am I going to have all of my needs met? When am I going to get a good night’s sleep? Or get the house cleaned? Or eat a decent meal, or even cook one?
I am appalled by my feelings, but then, as gentle as the summer rain splattering against the window, the thought comes to me: I am a mother. God trusted me enough to give me this notable title. It isn't about me anymore.
Slumped in the curve of a rocking chair, I suddenly see the beauty of myself. I was much more than an exhausted body in a baggy housecoat; I was the keeper of a child. This revelation soothes and refreshes me.
I look down into the face of my precious baby and from somewhere deep inside I feel a stirring, an intense longing to be the best mother, the best teacher, the best nurturer. Right then and there, wholeheartedly, I embrace this hallowed assignment called motherhood.
Happy Mother's Day!