It was Mother’s Day, 1981. Technically, I was already a mother since I would give birth to our firstborn a week later. Overdue, I felt as massive as a mammoth, as bulky as a bear, as huge as a hippo. I was retaining so much water, I couldn’t wear my own shoes and had to schlep around in my husband’s moccasin slippers.
To multiply the merriment, I developed a revolting rash all over my body—for which my doctor could give me nothing, for the baby’s sake. So I spent nights tossing and turning (as much as one can “toss” when you’re the size of a whale) and trying not to scratch.
Labour finally began late Friday afternoon and on Sunday afternoon, our nine and a half-pound son was born via C-section. It gave a whole new meaning to the words “long weekend.”
And I had never been so helplessly in love with another human being in my life.
With practice must come proficiency, because we repeated the performance two more times—without the rash, with much shorter labour times, and without requiring surgical deliveries. But with the same overwhelming rush of love every time.
Funny how that works, isn’t it? Methinks the flood of parental love is God’s way of ensuring we don’t ring their scrawny necks when they keep us up all night because they are teething or throwing up or wetting their beds or staying out past curfew or getting married the next day or birthing babies themselves.
It’s also God’s way of teaching us a little about himself. Although we could never love our children perfectly the way he loves his, becoming a parent gives us a window into God’s compassion. Nothing breaks our hearts like knowing our child is in pain or seeing him or her make bad choices. God’s heart breaks for us, too, but he is wise enough to give us freedom of choice and to allow our pain to make us stronger even though he could take it away in an instant. Most parents will tell you that if it came down to it, they would die for their child. In God’s case, he did.
My father used to tell the story of how, as a young man drafted into the Canadian Army during World War II, he knew his mother was praying for him. Though well aware of her faith, he possessed little interest in God himself. The day came when Dad received word his mother had died. That night, he dreamed of a light. His mother was following the light and in his dream, he knew he would eventually follow it, too.
At the time, Dad had no idea what the dream meant, but it made an impact on him nonetheless. Years later, he came to faith as well, and realized the fulfillment of his dream. No wonder one of his favorite hymns went like this:
“I’m coming home, I’m coming home,
To live my wasted life anew,
For mother’s prayers have followed me,
Have followed me the whole world through.”
All mothers make sacrifices. Missing a night’s sleep is one thing. Giving up things we might like for ourselves in order to buy those skates or music lessons for our offspring is another. But praying for our children is both the greatest privilege and the most powerful sacrifice any parent can make. Don’t underestimate it.
To help you with that, I’m offering a chance for readers to win a Chicken Soup for the Soul book called Devotional Stories for Mothers. I wrote three of the stories in this book and will sign it for you if you win. If you’d like your name in the draw, email me at terriejtodd[at]gmail[dot]com. On Saturday, May 11, at 3:00 p.m, I will draw one name from all emails received.
Happy Mother’s Day!