The voices in my head were getting louder. The ones that all mothers know. My daughter whispered tentatively through my closed bedroom door, “Mama. I’m hungry.” Again? I thought, “Just a minute.”
You know the voices I am talking about. The ones that say you are not enough. They don’t talk about those voices when they place babies in your arms for the first time. Even if they did, the idea that you would ever want to do anything but lovingly and appreciatively look at this brand new perfect creation seems inconceivable.
“Mama. My snack?” she tries again.
“What happened to the apple I gave you?”
“I ate it all.”
“You’re still hungry?”
Someone is always hungry. “Okay.”
It’s not clear when that heavenly moment of holding your baby for the first time turns into slamming the bedroom door to try and get away from them. There is no point in hiding though because her voice clearly sneaks through the keyhole. The eight-month-old baby inside me kicked. Our foster son was supposed to be napping. Through the wall, I could hear him singing to himself about race cars. The idea of opening the door to face it all again made my stomach churn.
“Just give me a minute!”
Why did I snap at her? It wasn’t her fault she was hungry. Just like it wasn’t our foster son’s fault that his schedule was so unpredictable that it made nap time a daily battle. It wasn’t the baby’s fault she was running out of space to kick anything but my bladder. This is what growth looks like. It’s hard, painful, and exhausting.
I could blame a lot of things, but at the end of the day, there is no good excuse. It was my God-given responsibility to raise these children. Hormones, busy schedules, cracker crumbs, and all. It was easy to agree with those voices claiming I was not enough.
“God. I am failing them. I should be gentler. I should be more patient. They deserve better than this.”
I’d prayed this prayer a thousand times. It was more like a confession than a prayer. And you know, God had probably answered a thousand times before, but for some reason, that day I heard it.
Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.
—1 Peter 4:8, NRSV
The verse just popped into my head out of nowhere. The grace of God suddenly washed over me. Yes, failure happens. Fatigue happens. The mundane will make the mind spin. But that love that stopped the world the moment she was placed in my arms is still there. It is just a fraction of the intensity of love that Jesus felt when he died on the cross for me and my kids. His love covers my sins, washes over the imperfections and failures, smooths over my prickly nature like a soothing balm.
“But God, sometimes I don’t feel that love. Sometimes I don’t show it to them very well either.”
I am thankful God answers all our questions, even the ones that doubt God’s goodness.
Another verse popped right into my head, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” —John 15:13, NRSV.
And what greater way to lay down one’s life for another than the way a mother does for her children?
Even when I don’t feel ooey-gooey feelings for my children, the fact that I am still there washing their clothes, kissing their scrapes, and listening to their story about a stick is loving them. Waking up in the middle of the night for the fourth time to nurse is laying my life down. I can trust God’s promise that love acted out will wash over my mistakes as a mother.
So I silenced the voice that says I am not enough with the truth that God’s love for me and my children is more than enough.
“Coming.” Let’s do this.
I stood up and opened the door and walked out in love.