Not a Mother Like Me
“I don’t want them to have a mother like me,” my daughter said.
I sat in a heap, shoulders bent, my right side propped against the hospital bed.
The children were always on her mind when thought processes were not drugged by the mass on her brain stem, or the drip in her arm, and when for a spark of a moment she communicated.
Two-year-old Sofia danced circles around the sterile room. Hospital visits were part of her life, commonplace as macaroni and cheese for lunch. Dressed like a ballerina, she looked like a pink cloud that bounced with twirls, hops, and skips. Isabella, six-months, was swaddled in soft pink. She lay, placed in the crook of my daughter’s arm. Her cherry mouth made little round puckers. Her button nose invited touch. She seemed perfect sweetness in miniature.
To watch my daughter’s physical puzzle pieces fail her and her body go rogue was the hardest thing I’d ever gone through. But the emotional process as her girls slipped farther from her grasp, fearful of her and of the machines that kept her alive, broke her heart. I felt I would die with her.
Her arms no longer held, her feet couldn’t walk and her tongue didn’t move.
“How can I be a mother if I can’t care for them?” she spelled it out by eye-blinks, while I wrote the painful letters one by one on a white board.
Her anguish bled so deep it thickened the room. It turned nurses to flee into the hallway and weep. The silent pathos with which her round blue eyes regarded those babies drove my mother heart to its knees in grief.
I put my lips next to her ear.
“You are the Mother that God put into their lives. As long as God gives you breath, you are the best and only mother fit specifically for those children. No one. No one else can do it like you.”
I told it to her over and over.
I pushed the words out of my mouth through clenched teeth when every inhale shook like a sob.
“God made you their mother.”
But in a hospital bed, paralyzed, unable to speak, the act of being a mother seemed like a mountain impossible to climb.
“How can I be a mother?” she blinked.
Maybe you have asked that question. Perhaps not from the vantage point of a hospital bed, but from another which seems too much, too hard, too high of a hill to climb.
Moms, God has placed motherhood at your feet. Sometimes it looks more like a dirty diaper than a crown, spit up than glory. At times you fly with it, wrapped in warmth and love, as if the role has wings. Other times, you chafe at its chains. Perhaps, you feel the frown of society, the ebbing away of potential and value. You picture how it should look and compare it critically to reality. You question if you are unfit for the job.
“…train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” (Titus 2:4, ESV)
- God gave you an honorable task. No other woman, no matter how clean her house, no matter how good her children smell, no matter how well behaved and smart her children are, was hand-picked for your child. God placed you there.
- You have been chosen, ordained for the job. In spite of a well of love that squeezes your insides and takes your breath away, you find you have a dark side that reaches your child. You sin. You make mistakes, yet God has called you. No amount of “disability” will ever strip that away.
- Motherhood is important to God. His last instruction on the cross was the care of His own Mother. Work on what He has prescribed and put aside the rest.
“… Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women…” Titus 2:3-4 (ESV)
- Come on, Grandmas, women past child bearing years, older women of God. We stand as examples that God can use broken people, bruised, weak, and flawed. We are walking-forgiven. We must NOT sit on our past haunches, ambivalent, and spent.
- God’s Word has given us a specific list of what to teach, how to train and encourage.
- Our lives don’t have the little-kid chaos anymore, but we still have a vital commission, and the Word is the guide.
In the quiet of the hospital room, my son-in-law had a routine. He’d lean over to kiss his wife’s unresponsive lips and he’d whisper, “Nothing has changed.” He was right.
My daughter Charity, has discovered motherhood’s core cannot be taken away. The things that matter, those things that will pass on into eternity have not changed. No disease or calamity can them take away.
Their picture of a happy family doesn’t look anything like it did at the beginning. The girls are becoming little ladies. Charity twirls her power chair, her dwelling place, almost like Sofia twirled in her ballerina dress. She pushes the button on the arm of the chair. It beeps long and hard, like a clothes dryer that’s finished its cycle. Bella runs to her.
“What?” Bella, now eight-years-old skids to a stop next to Charity’s throne. She listens attentively, her eyes on Mom’s lips. The voice is back. Different, each word measured, it’s a special language uniquely theirs.
“OK,” Bella nods. She smiles and throws her arms around my daughter, her cheek presses against her mom’s. The hug leaves Charity’s glasses askew, hanging off one side of her nose. Bella turns to run off, happy to obey.
Charity looks at me and smiles. There is pure joy in it.
The core of motherhood is not what you do, it’s Who Christ is, and who He wants you to BE. That’s your pass-it-down legacy.
“When everything is stripped away, God has to be enough,” Charity says.
He is enough.
By: Sylvia Schroeder serves as Women’s Care Coordinator at Avant Ministries. She and her husband raised four children in Italy and Germany, where they were missionaries with Avant. Their children are all married and they have twelve grandchildren. Visit her blog, When the House is Quiet, atsylviaschroeder.com.
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