Mother’s Day is bitter sweet for me. I have two precious babies in my arms today and for them I am extraordinarily grateful. It’s a quiet, thoughtful gratitude… for I cannot forget the years I sat with empty arms and a broken heart. I cannot forget the two women who carried my children and labored to bring them into the world. I cannot forget their empty arms today. I cannot forget the four children who left me far too soon and who I now carry in my heart. So today is filled with joy for the gifts I have been given (and do not deserve) as well as a dull ache that I suppose I’ll carry until heaven when everything is made right again.
I can’t erase the pain of the past and the scars it left on my heart. I can’t go back and make it not hurt that I have two children in heaven and two little boys I loved as my own for a few short months who have left. I can’t make my heart not miss them… all of them… and wish for just one more moment with them. Those four children molded and shaped me into who I am today. Those children made me the mother I am today. If not for them, and the lessons learned through loving and losing them, I wouldn’t mother the way I do. They cannot be forgotten.
And I can’t forget that I didn’t carry the two babies I am blessed to call my own. I can’t forget that there are two women on the other side of the world who labored to bring my babies into the world. I can’t forget wrapping my arms around Mareto’s mommy and feeling like my heart could burst with gratitude and with sadness for what she had to let go of… to put in my arms. I can’t forget the way she looked cradling him in her arms one last time and kissing his cheeks and laughing at his yawns. Those images are burned in my heart forever just as I am sure Mareto is burned in hers. My full arms mean that hers are empty. I can’t forget that. I can’t forget that there’s a woman on another continent with Arsema’s big eyes and soft black curls. I can’t forget that she is missing out on her very first Mother’s Day and all the rest to follow. I wish I could tell her how wonderful a gift her little girl is… I wish she could see how much she’s grown.
Because of all the hurts that had to be endured to bring me to the place I’m in today… the spit up stained, crumb vacuuming, diaper changing, late night rocking, mama of two place I’m in today… the sweet is just that much sweeter. The joy and the peace is that much more abundant.
How much more is that much? The expanse of my heart – every inch – all the broken and stitched up places and all the places that are filled to overflowing.
We don’t worry over the little things here… because I know what it means to lose a life and all the little things that came with that. We celebrate every moment – big and small – because we know what it means to lose all the moments. Those diapers, that spit up, all the crumbs on the floor and crayon on the walls, all the nights we spend not sleeping… those are all gifts and things I’m so grateful for because it means one precious, enormous, treasured thing. It means there are little people in my home who call me “Mama.”
The other day I was sharing with John all the things I hope for the future and all my big (sometimes too big) ideas and dreams. My days are so full with my little people I expressed that it might be awhile before I can begin to do some of the things I think about. Then I wondered aloud why I didn’t do any of them in the 5 1/2 years before Mareto finally came home. As I thought back to those years I realized that I wasn’t really living life to the full, that I was just going through the motions and all of a sudden it hit me. I looked at John with tears in my eyes and said, “I woke up. I was living half asleep for all those years… but when Mareto came home it’s like that was the moment I woke up. Why do you think that is?” He had just one response…
“Because you were created to be a mother.”
When we asked Mareto’s mommy what his name meant she simply smiled and said, “peace.” The day we met our little Arsema we returned to the hotel and I turned to John to ask what he thought her middle name should be and he smiled and said, “Joy.”
God has given us peace and joy in our children. Precious gifts that were waited for quite impatiently. Yes there were, and are, some hurts… but the sweetness is sweeter because of them.