Tuesday, September 16, 2008

On Maternal Love

It was about 1 am last night (this morning?) when I bolted upright in bed. I needed to go in and see my children.

Yes, I was just drifting off into the Land of Nod, hours behind their own departure. Hubby was sawing logs for his own raft - so basically all was quiet (as quiet as a Manhattan street can be) and still. So why the sudden alertness, you ask? I don't know that I can explain much beyond that I felt a need. A yearning, even. I wanted my children. Close. It was as if I could hear their bodies growing, and feel the time slipping away.

Motherhood is far too short a venture. I now think that the early weeks following the birth of a new child, commonly described as ones "lost in a haze of sleep deprivation", must be the Lord's own sedative. He makes post-partum groggy and zombie-like on purpose, to dull the sharp pain that comes with the early realization of just how quickly time flies. Every new mother whispers to herself, "I can't believe how quickly she's grown." What was once a bump beneath her blouse now wraps around her body, legs extended behind her elbow. Fast the tiny, downy head which tucked so easily beneath her chin, fits only on her shoulder. And her heart.

I stealthily slipped into my children's bedroom. I could see in the dark the outline of my young son - his leg stretched out from beneath his quilt into the cool of the air conditioned bedroom. I touched it as I approached him. He was sound asleep; his breath, rhythmic and heavy. I crossed over to my daughter's crib. She had tossed off her blanket, and her little arms were quite cold to the touch.

She didn't move when I placed my hand on her chest. I slid my hands under her arms and back, picked her up, and tossed her blanket over her head as I lay her on my shoulder. I took a deep breath of baby softness-smell, and rocked from side to side.


I sat in the glider and held and rocked my baby while she slept. I squeezed her little hands and hugged her 20-month old self tightly to me. Her eyes fluttered open and she saw me. She smiled widely, shut her eyes, and fell back to sleep with a grin that nearly broke my heart in two. I kissed her face softly and drew her closer in my arms.

I don't know how long I stayed in the nursery, reflecting on the miracle that these children were mine. These treasures didn't belong to someone else. I wasn't babysitting. These ones lived in my home, and I had the blessing of knowing that when I awoke, they would still be here. It all put a big lump in my throat. When I finally put my baby back into her crib, I felt so much gratitude that I was able to snatch a precious moment of time.

For all of the work that comes with being a parent - none of it compares with the joy. I am flabbergasted by those who scorn motherhood as something in which they have no interest. These toss-offs of feeling are usually accompanied with admissions that they are "too selfish to be parents". But they are missing the ENTIRE point! Unselfishness is definitely not a prerequisite to having a child - I know plenty of selfish people that are parents. Rather, I think that parenting is a means by which we can become unselfish. Choices don't end when your firstborn arrives - they just change dramatically. Will your choices be for your children, or will they be for yourself? And in the end, which will yield the greater rewards? Motherhood is the ultimate delayed gratification - with immediate perks and satisfaction.


Anonymous said...

i'm not sure which you do better - mothering or singing! i am inspired by both, and i can't do either!

Sheridan said...