It is not surprising to anyone who has ever so much as seen a pregnant woman that carrying and birthing a child is a full-body experience. That part is a given. But there is so much more to the full body experience of motherhood than that. Mothers give their whole bodies to their children.
With her eyes, a Mother sees her newborn baby for the first time, watches her toddler’s first tentative steps, see her child off to school on the first day, watches them dress for their first date, and sees her child shine on their wedding day. With her ears, she hears that first cry, that first word, she listens to accounts of trials and troubles, to stories of schoolyard spats and hurt teenage feelings. She listens to her adult children as they venture forth into their own lives, and hears stories of her grandchildren and maybe her great grandchildren. With her lips, she kisses away boo-boos and ouwies, reads countless bedtime stories, teaches principles, and changes the outcome of a bad situation with a smile. She also bites those lips when she watches her child suffer through something difficult or when she wants to offer advice that she knows is better left for another time. Perhaps most importantly, with her lips, she prays for her children – for guidance to know how to raise them, for help with struggles, and with gratitude that she is allowed to mother these sweet spirits.
A mother’s arms and hands rock a baby to sleep, hold the uncertain hand of a preschooler, hug a tired teenager, and work, work, work. Laundry, dishes, and household cleaning are usually a mother’s job too, and she gives herself to these tasks as an act of service, charity, and love to her family. She throws and catches balls and Frisbees, and twists little girl hair into braids and buns. Her shoulders are a place of solace for sorrowing children, her shoulders stand proud as she sees her children accomplish things they thought they could not do, and those shoulders stand strong when she is faced with trials that threaten her family.
A Mother's heart is permanently changed by having a child. The author Elizabeth Stone said, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
A mother’s hips may never be quite as svelte as they were before she gave birth, but they make such an excellent shelf for carrying a baby and toddler – and sometimes even a preschooler who just can’t go one more step. As the mother ages, those are the same hips that often fail, and make it harder to run around with her grandchildren, but easier to sit and enjoy their exuberant youth.
A mother’s feet walk the floor with a fussy infant, teach a toddler how to walk, and play soccer with a growing young boy or girl. They pace the floor awaiting the sound of a teenager coming in at curfew. Her feet walk with joy at a graduation ceremony, a wedding ceremony, or walking with her children in their accomplishments.
A mother’s knees crawl on the floor to encourage her little one to learn to move independently, then crawl some more to race matchbox cars and toy trains around tiny tracks, later, her knees run to keep up with lightning-fast children. And her knees are used in prayer - In pleading with our Father to know how to raise his children and how to help them learn and grow.
I am a mother. To my children and their upbringing, I have given my whole body. I do it willingly and lovingly. It was done for me and for each of us by our mothers.
Happy Mother's Day to my Mom, my Friends, and my Friends' Moms, all of whom helped shape me into the mother that I am.