I reflect on the children that are not in my home. I’m saddened by the children I never got to mother. And they come in different forms. Failed adoptions. Miscarriages. Babies who have transitioned from this life to the next. Foster children placed with other families. But each one leaves a tiny fingerprint in my soul. And mother’s day brings it all up.
The other day we were cleaning out the garage. We’re making a room for Manny so that means Jacob needs the garage converted. I came across a rocking chair. It’s broken and in pieces. And I immediately was in pieces as well. It’s a chair from my childhood. I enjoyed rocking in it. I envisioned the children that would play in it. And somehow, in the midst of raising my kids, I never got around to fixing the broken rocker. And so I let it go. It’s just taking up room. It’s not useable. And so I keep the memories and not the chair.
But as I let it go, I realized it’s the same for all the children that I thought I would get to parent but I didn’t. Those dreams are just as broken as the chair.
I also reflect on the children that I AM parenting. I’m amazed at the people they are becoming. I’m thrilled for their accomplishments. I love hearing their thoughts and hearts through prayer.
I also miss their former selves. I miss the sloppy kisses. The cherub faces. The simpler times of toddler bubble baths that have made way for me begging them to take a shower. (“You have smelly feet. I can smell them from here!” may or may not have been words uttered in my house.) I miss the days when a snuggle in the rocking chair and a kiss would mend the boo-boos. Those days have been traded for heartbreaks and consequences of choices. And they don’t hate me … yet.
I’m in the thick of parenting. And it’s hard to stop and reflect. It’s hard to get an accurate assessment of how I’m doing as a Mother. There are days I feel quite proud of the people they are becoming. And other days I realize just how far we have to go in the “train up a child” department.
And I pray … a lot. Asking for God to help take up the slack. The job is overwhelming. And yet there is no way to let up, not even for a second. Being a mother means being “all in all of the time”.
So somewhere in the midst of all the busy-ness, a lot of us mothers lose ourselves. I heard that before I was a mother and had no clue what that meant. But now? Now I understand. I still know who I am. I know my skills. I know I need to take care of myself. I know I’m valuable. But I’m not sure where THEY end and *I* begin. Maybe this quote captures what I’m saying:
“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” ~ Elizabeth Stone
I also am beyond thankful that I have the children that I have. God certainly placed the right children in my life. He’s pretty smart. And I’m thankful that even with 2 kids with “terminal” conditions, they are still alive and in my arms this year yet again. That’s not a thought I take lightly.
As I reflect on Mother’s Day I must reflect on the orphan. No child should be without a mother. One of God’s basic mandates to the Church is to take care of the orphan and the widow. And I’m just naïve enough to believe that if we did that… if the church got a vision of what this means… EVERYTHING would be different in the world.
I’m disgusted by the apathy of the world. The selfishness.
And even in the world of adoption, there’s competition rather than collaboration. People judging that their kid came from international adoption. Or didn’t come from foster care. Or that you didn’t adopt special needs child. Or you didn’t adopt two at once. Or It wasn’t an older child. Etc etc.
Hold up everyone! How about we recognize we are all heeding God’s call on our lives? How about we acknowledge that we are following the Lord’s lead in adopting? We need to get over ourselves.
So am I saying everyone needs to adopt? No. Not at all. Trust me, not everyone is cut out for this lifestyle! But God DID say that we are ALLLLLLLL to be caring for the orphan (and widow). So how about adopting a family? What would the church look like if every family that could adopt did and all the families that couldn’t adopt would find a way to help care for those families and care for those orphans that cannot be adopted for various reasons? More families would step up if they knew they had the support of their community.
It’s often the little things. Like 10 years ago, Luke was born. I brought him home from the hospital at 3 days old. The same day, the lady across the street brought home a newborn too (home grown). She had several baby showers. Had weeks and weeks of meals delivered to her. Their church even organized a cleaning crew from the church once a week for about 3 months. And me? Nada. Noone even THOUGHT that it would be helpful. I never forgot this stark contrast. No matter how a child is “placed” into a family, there are needs. The church needs to help.
Matthew 6:33 comes to mind. In highly paraphrased modern Beth version … “Get busy doing God’s work and what He asked us to do and He’ll take care of the rest.” I’m just simple-minded enough to take Him at His word. Caring for the orphan is one of those jobs.
So while I’ll be sitting admiring my flowers. And reading the hand made cards full of glitter glue that says how much my kids adore me. And while they attempt to make me brunch (and the whole time I TRY not to calculate just how long it will take me to clean it up). And while I get extra hugs and kisses. I’ll be most blessed among women. I know it.
And yet, part of me will be thinking of all the children who have no Mother.
Psalms 68:6 says “God Sets the lonely in families.” I’m praying for God to open the hearts of more people to the plight of the orphan. May there be no motherless children next Mother's Day.