Half-awake, I try to make sense of what I hear. It isn’t a child, though it could’ve been. Or an owl. Ah, it’s a distant train whistle.
I glance past my covers and across the room and see the clock, which tells me it’s just after midnight. So I haven’t been asleep all that long. I hear the broken breathing of Scott next to me, not quite snoring, but with definite signs of a stuffy nose.
My middle son, too—he’s rubbing his eyes again. Time to gear up for allergy season. Ragweed and leaf mold, here we come.
And as I lie awake, restless legs starting to move on cue, a reverie, a remembrance rises. I’m back in our first white apartment, married a month-and-a-half. Fourteen years ago. It’s nearly the same time of year and my world is spinning.
Petrified and astounded, humbled and amazed, I realize my life will never be the same. My new husband holds my shaking shoulders, comforting and assuring me, and leading me in holy awe and acceptance into motherhood.
Those double lines hold meaning I barely grasp.
I walk in a daze, secretly carrying knowledge and a pea-sized human. I see my mom, and she knows from the look in my eyes I’m expecting. I make phone calls from her house to find an OB/GYN after fishing for numbers from friends, trying not to let on there’s anything unusual happening. Pregnancy and motherhood happen every day.
But not to me. This is brand new for me. And there’s a time when it’s uncharted territory for each mother.
As my skin clears, my hair holds luster I didn’t know it could, and my stomach churns, there’s no turning back. This is a one-way street. I’m full of wonder at all the changes and full of hope for all the future holds, for this bundle my arms will hold.
Now, 14 years later, my son stands taller than me, and his younger brothers and sisters crowd around the kitchen table eating, drawing, reading, teasing, and laughing. They spout out birthday wish lists, ideas for inventions, stories from yesterday. Their ideas, hopes, and plans crowd the room.
I pause to see and wonder. These people, eternal souls inhabiting bodies, surround me. Their voices confide and confess, proclaim and declare, each one eager to be heard all at once, and I remind them to take turns. There’s only one of me, and there are five of them.
In that prayerful moment on our bed in our first apartment, committing new life to God, my husband and I couldn’t have imagined how beautiful our life would be. Simple yes, uncomplicated no, but always beautiful.
How easy it is to forget the awe in the mess, the running out the door, the endless loads of laundry, and the umpteenth unloading of the dishwasher.
But it’s their toes in search of shoes, their bodies wearing grass-stained pants, and their empty plates. None of this labor is meaningless because they are meaningful, knit together in secret inside me.
I’m tired today because I woke once with the train. I woke again with a squirmy 2-year-old nestled under my arm. I woke finally at 5 a.m., climbing out of bed to write before they wake. But may my tiredness not be an excuse to be short with my children, escape from them into my phone, or resent them in any way.
Lord Jesus, restore to me the joy of motherhood. Refresh my soul with faith for this journey. Fill my heart with fresh hope for each of my children. Let me love them well today. Amen.