It’s May with all its showers and flowers. I trust that sometime along the way we should be getting some sunny days. These crazy rain storms have got to end soon. But hey—no more drought, right? Actually, with only floods and mud, we have been some of the lucky ones. (Here’s the view just down the road from us this past weekend.)

Besides rain and flowers, May is known for its special holiday. Mothers’ Day. Yay! That means me! Let me share some of my experience as a mom and some lessons I’ve learned.

The moment I found out we were “expecting,” my whole life changed. I started  daydreaming. At times this mental state is referred to as “pregnancy brain” since some form of rational thinking seems to take a trip for the next few years. But dream I did. The dreams and hopes I had for what was to come was too much to describe! It was not unlike entering a fairy tale of sorts.

Alright, fairy tales gloss over the puking, the aching joints, the mood swings. But a baby! A real actual person was growing, safe and hidden inside me. A little person that had not existed before, and would not be if not for my husband and me! Talk about surreal.

Then she was born and our world flipped again. Never could I imagine the intensity of emotion felt as I held my firstborn, with her rosy lips and tight fists, as she wailed her hello to the world.

Overwhelming.

We have four children. At each birth the emotions were just as intense. You’d think I’d get used to it, but it was always astonishing. Beautiful. Perfect. Amazing. Each one a complete, unique person wrapped up in a different mysterious package of personality, talents, and weaknesses. Each handed over to my husband and me; their Creator entrusting us with this gift of their lives and their hearts. He trusted that we would learn who they were and help them grow to be who they were made to be. That we would love, protect, and grow their hearts strong. For Him.

I remember the awe at seeing their perfectly formed fingers, the thrill at seeing them smile, learn to crawl, and become more independent. How well I remember the naïve confidence that I knew what to do. I recall the tears that fell when I realized my inadequacy, realized I didn’t have a clue, and I threw myself on my knees begging for wisdom. (In retrospect, at least I knew where to go!) I remember the dawning realization that I was making all kinds of mistakes, despite trying so hard.  How well I remember begging God to protect my kids from my ignorance, begging Him to fill in for me.

And He does.

I learned more from being a mother than I have learned from anything else I have ever done. It taught me to be fiercely protective, and taught me to let go. It taught me that my heart could melt with love and burn with irritation at the same thing. It showed me how impatient I am, and showed me I could wait till the end of the world if it meant something good for my child would come from the waiting. It taught me I could work all day and still be alert enough to care for a sick one all night. And the next. It taught me I could sleep in a chair, sleep on the edge of a toddler bed, sleep through phone calls, but never sleep through a little one’s cough, nor the teenager arriving home after curfew. It taught me to love life more, and be willing to lay it down without reserve if need be. To laugh at myself, to cry for joy. It made me humble and filled me with no shortage of pride.

Most of all it taught me that these (once little) people are not mine, not really mine. They are not mine to force into some mold I decided is ideal. Not mine to walk over, to emotionally manipulate for my own gain or my own comfort, to parade my successful parenting, to show off. Not mine to talk down to or disrespect. They are God’s. Treasures. Made in His image, for His glory, and He loves them more intensely than I ever can, even if I can’t imagine how that can be. It is my job to help them know this, to lead them away from me and toward Him. Like John the Baptist I have to realize I must decrease so God can increase and I can rejoice to see that happen, rejoice to see my children mature into faithful Christians. (Yes, we relish the sense of belonging to each other, to this precious family, but I know I have succeeded when they relish belonging to God.)

I’m no martyr. Unlike John, I intend to keep my head long enough to enjoy and help teach my children’s children’s children. God willing. 🙂

That has been my mission, my career choice, this people raising business. I’ve not always been good at my job, as much as I love it. I’ve had to apologize and get back up and try again. And I have been rewarded way beyond those naïve new mommy dreams.

I learned as we went. I read a lot, prayed a lot, watched other moms, and asked advice. Some lessons I learned late, some I am just starting to understand. I suspect on my deathbed I’ll experience one of my frequent “Aha!” moments or “Oh, duh!” moments about something I should have learned sooner. Hopefully one of the kids will have a pen at hand to write it down for me. Let it never be said I stopped learning.

We have raised four amazing, God loving young people. They are our delight. They sometimes fail. They apologize, get up and try again. But, hey, they saw me do it often enough. I know them better than most. I know what they are good at and how they struggle, and I couldn’t be more pleased with who they have grown up to be. They may not be perfect—but… through the glasses over this mother’s eyes they are perfection. I love who they are.

Is that a bit of how God sees me? He knows my faults and failures, where I slip and where I succeed. He’s the true parent, and through some miracle of grace, the lens of Jesus’ life covering mine, He sees me as perfect. And He really loves me.

I take it back. The “most of all” lesson I learn from motherhood is this: I think I get it. I think I finally understand a bit about the how and why I am loved by God. I’m catching a glimpse of what love is through His glasses.

It is overwhelming.

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