I found it ironic that I had this post all written up, but wasn’t sure if I should share it because I always hesitate when I hit the Publish button on posts like this. Almost in response to my hesitation, an article that echoes my sentiments nearly identically was published in the latest issue of Soul Gardening and I decided that I wanted to share my heart on the topic as well. I find courage in knowing that I’m not alone in my mental rabbit trails.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of mothers, the beauty of our broken bodies, and the gift we’ve been giving in becoming even just a little more like Christ. There’s a specific phrase that I keep returning to in the wee hours of the morning when my eyes refuse to stay open and my spine can barely keep me upright, but I’m rocking a little girl who just won’t sleep and I can’t seem to set her down. Or when I simply want to sit and rest for a while but a little boy with more energy than should be physically allowed literally spins around and around in circles in front of me, asking me to do five things in the span of three seconds.
These days, my body is weary. Weary is the best word I can think of to describe it as it feels, at times, like a constant state of being worn out, tired, and spread thin. Weary. I am weary.
Many mothers begin their new role by allowing their bodies to be broken. To be torn. To be cut. To be stretched. To be mutilated. And all by choice. I remember in those frenzied minutes after the ambulance arrived at the hospital and they rushed me to the OR to get B out via emergency c-section, I was devastated and scared beyond words. But even in that insanity, I knew that I would do anything to make sure my little boy was okay, even allow someone to cut me open.
For the mothers whose babies didn’t grow in their bellies but resided prominently in their hearts, there is the invisible brokenness. The brokenness that tears your soul in two when the only way to be with your baby until money is raised, piles of paperwork are gone through, and legal obstacles are tackled, is a gentle caress of a sweet, tiny face frozen in time on a computer screen. And then, sometimes, they never even get to caress those little faces in real life.
For the mothers whose babies were here and then not here so suddenly, there is the heartbreak of being a mother, yet having no earthly person to show for it. Of the memory of two positive lines that ultimately equaled a pain and loss beyond words. Of the bittersweet taste of having loved that little person deeply and intensely despite their whisper of a life here on earth. And of the terrifying dive back into the depths of that pain to face it all again for another tiny person.
We go on to the “little years,” residing over these small people who rely on us for their every need, but have no way of expressing this need other than through piercing cries. This often means saggy breasts laced with stretch marks, mastitis, sore nipples, blisters, being bitten, etc. All in the name of feeding our children…nourishing their little bodies so they can thrive. We carry and wear them for endless hours regardless of the protests that our backs and feet may express. We spend countless nights staring blurry-eyed at the clock as the minutes tick by, breathing in the scent of the little downy heads that have been given to us, wondering why they just won’t sleep.
And then, of course, there is the emotional brokenness. The brokenness that only our hearts know from the perpetual mourning that accompanies motherhood. The good-bye to each phase. The feeling of each precious step going by far too quickly.
And yet, we continue to allow ourselves to be broken for them.
I look at pictures of myself now and compare them to the ones taken before I became a mother, and I can see it in my face, that aging that occurs during long periods of sleep deprivation. I see it in the multitude of white strands that adorn my head and seem to be popping up more and more often. I see it in the lines radiating from my belly button and the extra skin that seems to have made itself quite at home.
And I am honored.
I am honored that I get to learn what it is to be more like Christ in this way – to sacrifice ourselves for our children. I am honored that I get to be the mother to these amazing little people who I call my own. I am honored that through all of these struggles and the physical and emotional pain that so often accompanies motherhood, I get to hear “mama” and know that it means me.
I am honored to be broken.