A few years ago, a little girl I didn’t know came up to me at our neighborhood school. “My mommy went to college with you!” she said. She told her mother’s maiden name. I said I remembered her, fondly.
“She said she didn’t even recognize you when we moved here,” the little girl continued.
“Oh, yes, well, I’ve changed,” I replied.
“That’s WHAT she SAID!” the little girl answered, wincing a little.
AAAIIIEEE!!! But here’s the crazy thing: I’m glad I’ve changed. I needed to. Rearing children changes you. They grow you up, once and for all.
I used to care about all kinds of things in this world that didn’t really matter, until that first week at home with our first baby. All I could see was her face and its every changing expression. All I cared about was getting “the dairies” to work, and feeding and cuddling this wondrous little being, night and day, experiencing those first few jolts of pure, fierce mother love. In it to the hilt.
Everything else melted away – the headlines, the weather and especially the laundry pile. Everything! Vanished! She was that captivating. It has been the same way with her three sisters, each in turn. I wouldn’t be “me” without them now. And vice versa.
Children turn you inside out and “toast” your inner side, so that by the time they’re grown up, you’re “done.”
That’s because while they are growing up, you are, too.
You and your children grow and change, together. There’s no going back. Who would want to?
When they get an owie and you hug them, it doesn’t take long to realize that two arms are encircling you and hugging you back, making you feel better because you’ve been able to make that child feel better. Motherhood: the original two-fer.
Once you know what that’s like, you’re changed forever. You’re no longer self-contained. Your heart has multiplied. Your eyes see on new levels.
Their hurts are your hurts. Their laughter is your favorite thing. Their tears cut you to the quick. Your dreams have them in starring roles. If you’re lucky, you’ll adopt their simple, innocent faith, the one you used to have. They help you remember: “Jethuth loveth me, thith I know. . . .” It’s all you really need to know.
You see yourself, and their father, and the people of generations past, right there in those chubby, new faces. It makes you love all your relatives all the more. It’s as if a drawstring of love pulls you all in, snug and tight. Completed. Connected.
I finally figured it out: this is how God feels about each of us. Only more so. The funny thing is, He never changes . . . and we should. We become more like Him, through rearing children. Mainly, we grow in love. You don’t think you could ever love your child one bit more. And then the next day dawns . . . and you do.
A few years ago, there was someone very special who was going to become a mother for the first time. My niece, Theresa, was going to make me a great-aunt. I was going to get to act dotty, pinch those soft little chubby cheeks, and marvel, jowls swinging, “My, how you’ve grown,” while they roll their eyes but secretly love it.
I was going to get to watch Theresa grow and change, the way I did, and discover the profound, private and enduring joys that only mothers know.
I was honored to give her something very special, to mark the moment:
A changing table. Our changing table. That’s where I stood while a lot of the changing was going on, in more ways than one. Now she could, too.
It was for morning greetings and evening partings. Lots of diapers, lots of giggling. “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Nuzzling. Deep conversations. Silly jokes. Lots of kissing of the bottoms of little feet. Tender, lingering caresses of baby skin, certainly the most beautiful feeling in the world.
Standing at that table over the years with our four daughters, I did a lot of changing, hopefully for the better.
Oh, the changing table has a few miles on it, some dings and some dents . . . like me. But it has held up: sturdy, strong and ready for action. Just as we mothers are supposed to be. Just as I knew Theresa would be. I looked forward to the privilege of journeying alongside her, and watching her change as I continue to, too.
Theresa, I told her, you can’t begin to guess what the resident of that “hump” you’ve got going on in front is going to do to your heart and your life. You will never, ever be the same.
You are blessed beyond measure. God is giving you such a gift. Welcome to the sisterhood of motherhood. You’re going to be great at it. You’re going to love it.
And my, oh my. How you are going to change. †
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,
are changed into the same image from glory to glory,
even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
— 2 Corinthians 3:18
(From my new book, “Radiant Beams,” available on amazon.com or in Omaha at Parables Bookstore, 112th & Dodge. Come there for my book signing from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 8!)
By Susan Darst Williams | www.TheDailySusan.com | Radiant Beams Vol. I | © 2016