My grandson, Riley, who turned 1 on August 4th, had tubes placed in both ears this morning due to chronic ear infections. Heather had many ear infections when she was small, too, but never had tubes put in.
I’m reminded today of how profoundly my world changed, when at age 17 I became a mother. Until then, I thought so little of myself and was indifferent to many things in the world, but the moment I looked into the eyes of my first child the entire world changed for me. Things that had never mattered before suddenly carried tremendous significance.
I had dropped out of High School at the age of 14 for more reasons that I can begin to explain here, and I was ashamed of it but that shame took on a whole new meaning when I became a mother. I well remember thinking “I must get an education. I can’t bear the thought of this child growing up and being ashamed of her mother!” And my journey began in that very moment. I purposed within myself to get an education and to make my daughter proud, and with God’s help I did.
I also remember how much her well-being meant to me. Never before had I thought anything about being around cigarette smoke. One of my grandmothers smoked so I thought little of it, but when I was expecting Heather I read cigarette smoke could increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome so I determined my baby would not be exposed to cigarette smoke at all, and she wasn’t!
I remember naming her when she was born, the sweetest name to me, Heather Marie and while holding her in my arms I would sing her name and the feeling I had as I held her was one of sheer joy beyond anything I had ever felt with another human being. That precious little bundle rocked my world and forever changed my heart.
I have since said many times that once you have a child a part of your heart lives outside of you and you are never, ever the same again. Oh the times I’ve prayed for her to be protected from dangers seen and unseen! How I longed for her life to be lived in joy and happiness, freedom and love! I wanted only the best for my baby, then and now, God’s best that can only be found when abiding in His Perfect Will!
This morning I watched as my sweet child cried tears of hurt for her own precious little one as he awaited the medication that would put him to sleep and then the surgery that would be uncomfortable for him. Oh I knew… the unspeakable experience of motherhood! The grief, the joy, the love, the longing, the heaviness of knowing the pain of life and understanding that those precious little ones will know it too in time. The all consuming desire to protect them from the pain and the hurt and the dependency we must have on Almighty God to do for our children what we cannot do for them. We hold not the gifts of life or of peace and our only strength comes from knowing The One who does!
After the surgery was complete and the first little sound of his cry was carried to her ears, Riley’s mother knew it was her son. She could hardly wait to hold him close to her heart in her arms once again after a short separation that had felt so long. I know that longing…I’ve known it for so many years now. Sure our children grow up and we learn to let them go on their own, but all it takes is that certain sound of need and the heart of a mother opens wide to the need of her child. It never goes away. If we live to be 100 we will still respond to the call of our precious children.
Heather and Justice left the hospital to take Riley home and I went to get breakfast to carry to them. When I got there, Riley had vomited and he and Heather were both covered. She simply said “help” as I opened the door to go in, and with outstretched arms I reached right into the mess with them. That is the love of a mother.
Then when Riley was all cleaned up and Heather too Riley vomited again all over me and him! I just held him close while he cried.
There is something so amazingly wonderful the Good Lord does when He makes us mothers. He gives us a glimpse of His love for us. I am always so touched when I think of how He comes to us in the sickness of our sin and cleans us up and makes us His own. He clothes us in His righteousness and loves us with an unfailing love. From the moment He makes us His own, His ears are open to that certain sound, the need of His child, and He is there. He comes to us wherever we are in whatever mess we find ourselves and He cleans us up and holds us while we cry.