Friday, December 14, 2012

How Motherhood Changes You

The infamous "they" say having children changes everything. 

When I was pregnant with Wyatt in 2006, I would begrudgingly shake my head in agreement and grit my teeth hard into a forced smile every time some gray-rooted sage gave me such advice.

Of course things were going to change.  I was about to lose my freedom, discretionary income, leisurely weekends, 8-hour of sleep each night, claim to my husband's free time, my heart, and even (at times) my mind. 

All this, I expected, although expectations can never really depict the never-ending 24-7 of reality. What I never expected, though, is how having children would change my perspective on the world around me, would change how I relate to others and their life stories.

With each day that passed after the birth of my son, every child I saw on the news, in the papers, or just around town made me pause and take note.  Increasingly, my mind began to replace the foreign face, darker skin-tone, or different language with my own child's image and tongue. 

Any child could now be my child. Likewise, any mother losing her child could be me, but for the grace of God.

And in that instant, my tiny universe blew wide open.  No longer were those children and their mothers random faces, victims of this or that horrible event. 

Now, they were children of women just like me, mothers who had grown a supernatural love for that child.  In motherhood, we shared a bond that carried my heart across the globe to them, that made me really care about them for the first time in my life.

The Columbine school shooting was in 1999, before I was married or had children.  It was sad, shocking, even frightening to me as a new teacher; yet, somehow, it still felt more than an arm's length away from affecting me personally.

But today? The events in that Connecticut kindergarten classroom left me dripping tears in the flower bed as I pulled the random winter weed from already damp soil.

Only the rational side of my brain kept me from driving fast from the farm and pulling my son out of his own kindergarten class for the rest of the day, just to hold him close for as long as he'd let me.

Perhaps it's that raising children forces you to stop being selfish, to look beyond your own narcissistic tendencies and focus (sometimes almost exclusively) on the needs and feelings of others.  Or maybe it's that motherhood makes you finally know real fear of what you hold dearer than your own life.

Whatever the reason, tonight, I and many other mothers grieve with these who are letting go of their children when they should be holding them close in the season's celebration. 

There is no way I can imagine the magnitude of their heart ache.  Still, my mother's heart aches in prayer for them and alongside them as I weep for the senseless violence of sin...for what innocence is lost and for what emptiness is left behind.

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