She was pushing a double stroller at 7:30 a.m. I spotted her at the end of the sidewalk and pulled my dogs over into the grass where I had them sit until she passed. It was the respectful thing to do. Let’s be honest, there wasn’t room on the sidewalk for all of us. Her huge stroller. My over-sized dog.
When she drew even with me, she thanked me. That was when I saw the newborn strapped to her chest.
Three babies. All under the age of 4-years-old.
“Bless you,” I said.
She laughed ruefully.
Before she could get too far away, I added- “I have five.”
“I don’t know how you do that,” she said, her voice weary.
“Well, they are big now…”
“And you survived,” she said.
“Yes, honey, and you will too.”
She walked on. I jingled the leashes and turned toward home as the emotions of those years when all of my children were small flooded back upon me. There was always the conflict between my fierce love for my babies and the crushing weight of caring for them day after day.
“The days are long but the years are short,” someone said to me during that time. That was truth.
My heart ached for that weary mother this morning. As I resumed my walk, I prayed for her and it went something like this.
Please renew her strength for the tasks ahead of her today. Give her wisdom, patience, and…courage. Her job is the hardest one in the world.
And when the crying, the endless chaos, the never ending demand of caring for her small children pushes her to the breaking point and she loses her patience, please Jesus, help her grant herself grace.
Please provide some kind someone to offer her a helping hand: someone to rock a baby for awhile, or read her toddler a book, or take her pre-schooler to the park.
Could you give her the equivalent of the stay at home mom lottery and cause all of her babies to take a three hour nap…at the same time?
And a hot shower too during which not one child cries.
Grant her the treasure of a cup of tea, a Psalm, and a simple prayer- lead her beside still waters, Compassionate Christ, for she needs You.
Let her find a piece of chocolate in the back of the pantry she forgot was there.
Give her a good friend to walk beside her on her journey.
I pray that she would have moments of pure joy with each of her babies today. Let them make her smile and laugh out loud so that she might taste the reward of her labors.
And when her husband walks in the door tonight, give him your eyes to see her. May he be overwhelmed by her sacrifice for his children. May he see her as more beautiful than ever before because she is pouring her life out for those babies. Let him take her in his arms and tell her so and then, Jesus, prompt him to roll up his sleeves and bathe a kid because they are in this together.
I pray that no one fights bedtime, no one has a night terror, and that the baby sleeps until morning light.
One more thing, Jesus, be very near to this mom in the moment when the last child is in bed and she sits in the quiet alone. She will be so tired and that is the very moment the accuser will come to whisper his worst. He will remind her of everything she should have done that she didn’t. He will run the replay of each moment of irritability, and every time she reached the end of her rope. Silence him, sweet Christ. May your voice be the only voice she hears. May she find rest in you and assurance that when she has given all she has and finds that in her humanity it is simply not enough, You most certainly do not condemn her.
You make up the difference.