Thursday, September 9, 2010

Day 304 The Mother's Dilemma

Dear friends,

One of my coworkers is having her first baby. I think: does she have any idea what this will be? Does she know that her heart will now reside outside of her body, exposed and vulnerable in a way it never has been before? Is there any inkling while the contractions do their job of bringing forth life while exhausting the momma, that this is a metaphor in a way for the whole process of raising kids? Lots of work, little rest, anxiety, anticipation, struggle, danger, pain and reward.

I can picture her joy when she hears her little girl laugh for the first time. I well remember that unsettled feeling the first time the child is left with someone besides mommy or daddy, even if it's only for an hour. How about when they get that first bite of chocolate, or play on the beach and try to eat the sand? So many moments - the green velvet Christmas dress, building a snowman, roasting marshmallows, jumping in a pile of autumn leaves, 1st grade jitters, 5th grade adjustments, middle school nightmares, high school madness.

There are a couple of universal things every true mother wants for her children. One is their happiness, the other their safety. Even before they emerge from the dark world of the womb, mothers have a fierce instinct to protect their offspring. I'm a pretty mild person when it comes to confrontation, but don't mess with my babies. There's a hair trigger that lives in a mother's heart on the lookout for danger for her kids. More quickly scalp me or run me over than hurt my kid.

So I think of my friends the Carey's, whose son was killed. And my friends Jackie and Steve, whose daughter is confined to a wheelchair with CP. (As an aside, these are the two families who did the lions share of taking care of my boys while I was otherwise occupied back in November and December). There are mothers (and fathers too) who are the walking wounded, living with the daily pain of being unable to protect their beloved. I am honored to walk the pilgrim road with them as they continue to struggle through and trust God in the midst of stuff that has taken many a family down for the count.

When Hannah was injured in the crash of November 8, there was that helpless feeling of knowing I couldn't protect her from danger. There was, for a time, a struggle with guilt, thinking "if only they had the van" or "if only we had a newer car with more safety features" or "if only I hadn't been working that night maybe everyone would have been home", etc…, etc… The bottom line was I was crushed that it was Hannah Mary Rejoice Smith, heart of my heart, with glass in her face, her eye cut open, her darling teeth slammed from her beautiful mouth, her arms and legs cut and bleeding, and her precious, one of a kind brain invisibly bruised inside her perfect head. It was the primal problem of every mother on earth, the thing we dread. For reasons far beyond my "pay grade" to understand, she lived and is recovering in a most astounding way. Listening to her chatter at the table the other night I had a profound experience of relief. She's alive. She is ok. Even if there is more healing to go. And for this I can only offer my everlasting praise and love to the Great One, who spared me sorrow upon sorrow, and heard my, and all of your cries for mercy. Still, what of those who die, or are disabled or broken for life? I deserve no greater favor, nor does God "play favorites". I still don't know why we went through this, never mind figuring out why other folks carry a much heavier load. In the end, I only know God is a relentless lover of our souls. He had to allow free will so there could be love, but He knew the wreckage it would cause. In His mind blowing understanding, He decided it was worth it. And He also determined to stick like glue to us when we suffered and stumbled. The greater the need, the greater His grace.

Jenna will know shortly the unyielding love of a mother. She will also know the pain. But there's not a chance she would turn back. Love is stronger than fear. It's stronger than suffering. Indeed, it's stronger than the grave. Love makes life worth living. Period. So march on, you brave momma's. And love your babies like there is no tomorrow. Because you simply never know.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


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