On Sunday I celebrated my third Mother’s Day. But, this felt like the first Mother’s Day I could finally relate to other moms.
For me—a woman who has become a mother twice because two other women’s sacrificial act of love through adoption—celebrating Mother’s Day is the most precious gift. Being a mom, a miracle. After waiting eight years to be called, “Mommy,” it is music to my ears. Everyone knew when my first son arrived in 2014, that I was smitten beyond measure. Mother’s Day #1 was ushered in with my baby’s dedication and enough happy tears to fill the church baptistry! It was pure joy. It is possible I annoyed a mom or two by the daily twinkle in my eye and blissful first year of motherhood.
A year went by. Seriously, I do not recall one bad mommy moment that entire first year. I do not lie. Now, it’s possible in the mix of bodily fluids, boogers, and piles of laundry that difficult day was forgotten (or lost) in my messy brain. But, it was a sweet (and easy) first year.
My Second Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day #2 was a little less peaceful. My thoughtful husband surprised me after church with a mini getaway to a park. We live far from everything; this hour trip was his effort to get me out of the house into my beloved nature. Although, he forgot the stroller (to actually enjoy that leisurely walk in the park), lunch was very late and caused our angel baby to turn into a hangry monster; not only hungry, but he was desperately needing a nap… and we were short one necessary diaper. After a few hours of driving and a day of glee with our screaming toddler…we arrived back home agreeing we would never do that again after church, before “nappy” time.
This Mother’s Day
That brings me to Sunday. Mother’s Day #3. My two requests for my special day were simple: No traveling unless within a 15-minute drive (which meant we were staying home in the country) and nap time must be administered first!
During the last year, God blessed us with our second baby boy gift. So, again we were ushered on stage during the church service to dedicate our precious bundle.
The Signs Should Not be Avoided
Someone mentioned leaving Jaden, our 2 ½ year old in nursery, but I wanted to present our family of four. What pride I had for these perfect children God chose especially for our family. So, I brought Jaden joyfully into the sanctuary with Uriah, now 10-months, to meet my pastor hubby for the dedication. But, why didn’t I see the warning signs?
First, there was the fact that for the last three months we have traveled more than 50+ hours driving to visit family and for my speaking engagements. To Georgia, to Gatlinburg, to Hilton Head, and back to Georgia! And during the weeks we were home, family and friends visited us…parents, our brother-in-law for his college spring break, grandparents, and our missionary friends. Every trip and visit our children (and us because of sleeping arrangements) lost sleep. And, became grumpy (the kids, not us! Well…most of the time just the kids). Sleep deprivation should have been Sign #1.
Sign #2 was obvious. We had just driven to Toccoa Falls, GA to celebrate our brother’s college graduation. Friday morning, we left for the 7-hour “hike”, stuffing our already sick-of-driving kids in their car seats, promising our toddler fun upon arrival. It was fun to see the family and he did get an hour in the hotel pool to get his “wiggles out”. But, for a toddler—hanging out in a college dorm room, sitting quietly at dinner, being forced (through use of discipline after the 30th attempt) to be quiet and go to sleep in the hotel room, waking the next morning to sit still at breakfast, excitedly arriving at Uncle D’s graduation to be commanded to sit still for an hour and a half ceremony, then sit through a celebratory graduation lunch at a nice restaurant…Nope, quietly sitting still is not fun.
Then, with kindness, after the “fun” activities we stuffed our kiddos back into their car seats for the 7-hour drive home. We would do the trip all over again to celebrate with our wonderful brother. But, I should have realized arriving home at 9pm, getting the kids in bed by 9:30 with church the next morning…Sign #2, too much traveling, would make a toxic concoction of emotional instability. And amazingly, Jaden still managed to wake up for church by 6:45am. Why don’t toddlers ever sleep in? Good morning, Sunshine! …tired, grumpy, and Sign #3…in a mood.
Yup, Sign #3. If you must enforce discipline by 8am, public presentations are not a great idea.
Baby Dedication for the Second Child
Three beautiful families stood on stage excited to ask the church family to join with us in raising these beautiful gifts. First family to walk on stage has two other young children, but chose to leave them in nursery (they were much smarter than us and saw the signs!). Third family has three calm children and their energetic fourth was exhausted and practically sleeping on his dad’s shoulder (lucky!). And then there was us, tucked right between the other two families.
I held Jaden, because he has always been and still is ridiculously attached to his momma’s hip. “No, momma do it!!” is his favorite saying. (A familiar T.V. Baby Dinosaur swinging a frying pan may pop into your head). My Beloved held baby Uriah. The signs were all there. I held my breath…just hoping to get through the next three minutes without causing a terrible scene and ruining the baby dedication.
Thirty seconds went by. And then the spectacle began. Jaden began pointing to my husband’s shoes. “No, daddy!” yelled Jaden arching his back in my arms. I let him get down on the stage. He began playing with daddy’s shoe tassels.
Another 30 seconds. Jaden began rolling around on the stage, hopping on his knees. The “look” was directed from me to my husband. He handed me Ri and picked up Jaden. But, that was not what the bouncing minion wanted at that moment. So, he lifted his arm for a left hook to dad’s thigh. My husband quickly picked up Jaden, who immediately began twisting in his arms for freedom. This time he yelled his favorite phrase, “No, momma!” I was not only distracted by Jaden’s embarrassing display of raw emotion, but my youngest was trying his hardest to rip my dangly earnings out of my ears and strangle me with my necklace. At this point, I have no idea what our lead pastor was saying, but I gingerly agreed, “Yes, we do.” I think that was the right answer!
Slowly, our pastor’s wife was handing me the dedication gift for Uriah, a Storybook Bible, gauging whether I could manage another object in my arms. Jaden persisted for momma. In my attempt to trade children with the hubby, I managed to smack baby Ri right in the face with his new Bible. Tears welled in his eyes and a few whimpers came out, but he miraculously stuck his thumb in his mouth and pulled his little pride together. Closing prayer. Baby dedication almost over. Jaden squirmed in my arms like a wet fish, but I held on tight whispering loving threats in his little ear.
With sweat dripping off our foreheads we walked off the stage as everyone clapped for these three precious young families. Some smirked with knowing looks, thanking the Lord they were out of the terrible two stage. Others may have judged our child’s less than perfect behavior.
I simply “booked it” to nursery.
Jaden was delivered to the safe zone for the remainder of church—and had a blast.
When church was over and kids were nestled peacefully in their beds, tears came again. This time tears of exhaustion and hoping this stage of toddler defiance and discipline one day molds my little man into a passionate and kind man of God.
In my struggle, it happened. My Father whispered a loving truth into my ear. You are a REAL MOM. It’s okay not to be perfect.
A beautiful fact. An imperfect mom with imperfect children…all in need of God’s perfect grace. Since God blessed us through adoption, I have seldom allowed myself those difficult moments all mothers experience. My thought, How dare I have struggles when God has finally given us children. On this Third Mother’s Day I finally allowed myself to relate to other moms. The exhaustion, embarrassment, struggle, and joy of being a mom was all wound up in that three-minute spectacle on stage.
Yes, my tummy has always been flat.
But, the truth is that motherhood has nothing to do with bearing a child physically. Motherhood is bearing the mountains and valleys of raising another human being, molding their God-given personalities. One day, my busy toddler and energetic infant will be grown. And my prayer, through all the joys and struggles, is when my two little boys become men, they would rise to call me, “Blessed” (Proverbs 31:28).
This Sunday, I have never felt more like a mom. And I have never loved my two imperfect children more.
And, I’m happy to report. After almost three hour naps, my toddler minion and whimpering infant returned to my two angel babies once again. We had a wonderful Mother’s Day afternoon… enjoying God’s creation at home, while watching our perfect-for-us boys play!
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 31 Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.