Since the beginning of time woman have been looking for a way to describe motherhood. The never-ending responsibility. What it feels like and how it changes you. The never ending desire for your child, even though you can’t imagine cleaning peanut butter off their face one more time. It’s already been 700 times today.
How do you put into words the complete psychotic experience it is to yearn for their bedtime only to find yourself sitting on the couch watching videos of them while they sleep? You haven’t slept in 3 years.
One time in college, I worked out for the first time in a long time. I did so many “step up” moves that when I was done, I couldn’t walk. Like, couldn’t walk out of the gym. I had what I called body failure (obviously). My legs would not stand on their own for a good 5 minutes. Since this exercise seemed to have betrayed me, I (unapologetically) became a dramatic scene on the gym floor. Limp with nothing left. With a rolls of their eyes, my roommates assisted me back to my dorm room.
This scene often comes back into my view during moments of motherhood. Motherhood sometimes feels like I’m on the verge of experiencing some type of body failure. How is my body still working? How am I still functioning?
Just recently, I lost my daughter inside my house for close to 10 minutes. Legit LOST her. The panic that filled my body through this experience is unexplainable. It happened during the .003 second I turned around to hand a jelly sandwich to the three year old, (who was screaming, “I want sandwich” on the kitchen floor during his apparent gymnastics floor routine.)
I did find her. But the larger mystery here is why did I not suffer from a heart attack during or after my search for her? I am not fit enough to keep up with this responsibility.
Last week I arrived home from work and upon being unstrapped from his car-seat, my toddler bolted into our next-door neighbor’s garage. Since my baby was still safely strapped into her car-seat, I quickly followed and found him just moments before he threw an entire bucket of chalk AT my neighbors.
Wanting to die, I looked up only to see my baby STANDING in her carseat, waving to me. I sprinted to her rescue. Toddler hanging from my hip.
Body failure, take me now.
There are no words for this.
There is however, a story.
There is a story in the bible of a nameless woman. This woman as part of her custom participates in a ritual of giving. The story goes that she waits in a line of thousands who are there to give. The wealthy, middle class, and poor fill the area. All walks of life are represented and prepared to give in a spirit of generosity and devotion to God. Each takes their turn giving money. Some of the wealthy give substantial amounts that while monumental leave little to no impact on them; a drop in the bucket in comparison to what they have. Others give in amounts that impress others, potentially allowing them to leave with a feeling of pride. But when it’s her turn, the nameless woman looks bashfully away from the man who sits across her while he observes each giving. She gives only two coins. When combined, these two particular coins amount to less than one cent.
What she gives is not merely what she had available that day. It wasn’t what she had put aside for this particular day of giving. It was all she owned. She gave all the money she had to her name. Everything.
Out of all the people who gave that day, the man who watched all of them stopped to address the crowd. He spoke about only her. He said, “Out of everyone today, this woman gave more than anyone else. She gave all she had, her whole livelihood.”
That is motherhood. It’s giving all of it. All of you. When it may looks like nothing but feels like everything. Every ounce of what you have and then when it’s gone just a little bit more.
Jesus saw that. He stopped and took the time to not just notice it, but to announce it and draw spectacle to it.
I think this may be how God sees a mother. I think He goes beyond noticing her and what she’s giving. He notices that motherhood is giving when there is almost nothing left to give. It’s pulling energy and stamina that comes from a place you didn’t even know was there.
It’s wiping peanut butter off their faces for the 701st time today.
It’s walking a three year old through an apology card for throwing chalk at the neighbors when you just want to change out of your work clothes and pour a glass of wine.
It’s taking two minutes to pee and returning to find your spirited child has destroyed/transformed your dining room into a nail salon. And not screaming, but sitting down for your pedicure…even though dinner should be ready in five.
It’s pulling yourself out of bed, one more time, because your baby is hungry and sleep will wait just one more night.
It’s becoming a mother to a family member who is not your child when you’re so clearly being called to do so.
It’s taking two more foster children into your home, even though you’ve already said you can’t take even one more.
It’s patiently waiting to become a mother and giving your all, to all possibilities, even when hope starts to dwindle.
It’s giving everything, when you’re at nothing.
When that moment comes and I feel like my body will literally stop working because the giving and the work feels endless, I like to think that the digging for more does not go unnoticed.
I like to think that God doesn’t just see a mother but notices the depth in which she gives. And then goes beyond that. I think He celebrates her and announces her. That He draws spectacle to her while recognizing that a mother isn’t just giving what she has; she gives all she has, her everything. And that He possibly delivers a little extra muscle and strength to help her avoid becoming limp and done on the gym-floor of motherhood.