I must hear it said a good 80 times a day. “Mama”, “Hey Mom”, and “Mommy!” are all derivatives of it.
What should we do today, Mom?
I’m thirsty, Mom.
Hey Mom, I need help!
Mom, can you wipe my bottom?
Mom, watch me do tricks on the trampoline!
Mom, can I squirt you with water?
Mom! She said she didn’t like me!
Mom, I’m bleeding!
Mommy, Savanna’s on top of the table!
Can we have pizza for dinner, Mom?
Can we watch something, Mom?
Mama, the baby’s crying!
Can you tickle me, Mama?
I want to sleep in your bed, Mommy.
These are just a few that I can remember from today’s log. But who’s keeping track. They sure aren’t. They freely come to me with needs, wants, demands, tattles, tears, and giggles. And then there are the times when they feed off the requests of one another. Do your kids do this? One asks for a drink, and then suddenly they all start asking for one. I get into negotiating now, just to cut my work load in half. I whisper, “Can you drink it in the kitchen and hide it from your sisters?” Pathetic, I know.
There are times when I hear, “Hey mom!”, that I cringe and roll my eyes. “Hey what?!”, I fire back. I can’t handle one more request piled on me. They yell mom, but I hear, “Excuse me adult person who gave birth to me: I am going to suck the life out of you and have you serve me until you’re blue in the face and can’t breath anymore.” But they sum it up nicely with just one word: mom.
Then there are the times when I gladly say yes to my 3 year old’s request to sleep with mommy, and I am given the gift of giggling together in my bed and holding her close to the womb where she lived with me for 9 months. I try to imagine what it will be like when she is 18 and wonder if we will lay laughing with each other then. Her blue eyes will be the same, but those sweet chubby cheeks will be gone. There will come a day when the 80 times will dwindle to 50, then to 30, then 10, and then none at all. Our children will be all grown up and out from these four walls, and it will be heard only in my memories. They called me mom.
So I rewind from when I am 60 years old, and come back to this present moment where they call me mom, every other minute.
Here are the calling voices: a 7 year old boy and what feels like, quintuplet girls. Our daughters are 5, 4, 3, 2 and a 6 month old. Albeit the 6 month old isn’t saying much of anything yet, but it’s amazing how her cries sound a lot like, “Mommy! You need to stop what you are doing – be it sleeping peacefully, enjoying the dinner you just sat down to eat, or stepping into the shower – and come and lay your life down for me, again.”
Being a mom is hands down, no contest, the hardest thing I have ever done, and will ever do. And yet somehow at the same time, it is the most important thing I have ever been, and will ever be. Did you catch that? There’s the doing and the being. I’m good at doing a lot of things and working hard around here, but often times, my children don’t need me to work hard and do lots of things. Yes, they need clean underwear and a dinner to eat, but they also need me to be their mom. What does that mean though?
One time our 4 year old was having a hard morning, getting frustrated at all the buttons she had to close on her clothing and in the process got hit accidentally in the head by her 2 year old sister. Then she bumped into the wall which only sent her into a greater downward spiral. I kept trying to intervene, to get her to stop crying and try to cheer up. But she just wanted to cry. And unfortunately, I didn’t want to hear it. So I told her to stop crying, deal with it and get ready to leave the house with the rest of us. How’s that for being a mom?
Sean turned to me and gently said,
“Why don’t you just hold her? I seem to know someone else in this room who usually feels better after a good cry.”
[Sigh.] Missed that one by a mile. In moments like that, I feel down right clueless. But sure enough my daughter’s tears slowly ended and she pulled her face off my shoulder and looked quietly into my eyes. All I have left in my mind to say is “I love you”. With that I hear, “Thanks, mom“. The words are like saving grace to my heart. I don’t deserve her. She slides off my lap with a smile, puts on her shoes and joins the rest of her siblings in the van. [Big sigh.] Please, God, help me get better at this.
And He sweetly responds, “I just did, Rona . . . through Sean.”
In the months to follow, I was invited to share with a young women’s group about motherhood, which prompted me to think and pray a lot more about being a mom. I felt as though I had a good understanding about God’s heart on children, in that they are a blessing, a reward, and an inheritance from Him. But I couldn’t think of anywhere really in scripture where the mother’s role was talked about as being important. Could you?
He led me to the crucifixion. How surprised I was to see that some of Jesus’ final words were spent acknowledging His mom’s role in His life.
“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:25-27, emphasis mine)
This was revelation to me! Jesus saw his mother, where? There! She was there. Mary came to see her Son, to support Him, to be near Him. I think it’s also important to notice what she did not do. She did not come to rescue Him or to talk Him out of His decision or intervene unnecessarily. But she was there, actively participating in the moment at hand through her very presence. She chose to be there, rather than at the market, at the temple, or even at home doing housework. It was as though He looked down at her and said, “Thank you for always being there for me, just how you are here right now. I see you, mother. I see that you are there. And this has meant the world to me.”
He called her mom.
And the whole world was sharing in this moment between them. I assume He could have had this conversation behind closed doors in their home, since He was well aware of His timely death. Yet He wanted their relationship to be displayed and made known that her presence was important to Him.
It’s noticable to Him that you are there with your children, in whatever form that takes. He sees you there. He sees how you are there for your children, again and again and again, especially when no one else does.
For all the 80 times my name is called in a day, I hope I can be there to respond to them all. Even though I sometimes snap, say things harshly, at least I will keep being there for them. And saying my share of sorries along the way.
An older father of 8 children encouraged me one day in regard to motherhood. It was one of those life changing one liners. He said,
“Even on your worst day, Rona, at least you are there.”
You are there in the kitchen handing out drinks (even if you’re negotiating to cut your work load in half!). You are at the changing table throwing away dirty diapers and kissing belly buttons. You stand by the trampoline and cheer on the masses. You listen to the cries of a discouraged heart. You bandage up the bleeding and drive the broken to the hospital. You feed the mouths that hunger for more. You are there in the night to calm the nerves from bad dreams. You find the missing toy for it’s teary eyed owner. You rescue toothbrushes from the toilet and keep it from clogging. And you hold their faces close as they lay in your bed.
Being there makes a difference. Think about it. Who was there for you while you grew up? Who made you feel special, understood, valuable? I’d venture to say it was the people who took the time to be there for you.
“When he saw his mother there”… let that be said of us.
They call me mom.
They call me the one who is there.