Today Is Mother's Day
I awoke to the sound of whispering in the kitchen. At least, as much whispering as a nine year old boy and his four year old brother could manage. I was still half asleep, and squashed like a sardine in my queen size bed. It was barely 7 a.m. and I was tandem nursing our 17 month old son, Henry and his new baby sister. Little Sophia had been born abruptly, unexpectedly, six weeks premature in this very bed just three months before.
These days, waking in the middle of the night is all I seem to do. There are, of course, two hungry babies to feed off and on until the wee hours. But what kept me up that night, and most nights, was thoughts of my husband, a naval officer, thousands of miles away in the desert.
It would be about supper time there. I wondered if he had eaten yet and hoped it had been tolerable. I prayed for his safety and the safety of his men. I prayed that he would be a good witness to the crew that he flew with. I prayed for their missions that would ultimately bring both freedom and the opportunity to learn of the true living God to a people who had never known either. I prayed for each of our seven children who all miss their Daddy. When I could pray no more I would fall back asleep until the next round of crying babies or fear awoke me.
There I was, on a Thursday morning in October, completely exhausted, scrambling to compose my thoughts and organize the day’s events in my head when in walked Daniel. At four years old, buzz cut hair and chocolate brown eyes; he was the spitting image of his father. He was grinning ear to ear, wearing nothing but his underwear. I was about to robotically tell him to go get dressed when he proudly announced, “Look, we made this for you.”
He thrust a mug at me, nearly spilling its contents on his sleeping sister. It caught me off guard. Had my four year old really made coffee? Indeed he had, with the help of his older brother. I took an obligatory sip to not hurt his feelings. Hmm. It was actually pretty good.
They had put in just the right amount of sugar and cream, not to mention it was in my favorite mug--a bright blue one with fading gold letters that spelled out Navy and a big chip on one side, undoubtedly from one of the four moves we’ve made in the last two years. Before I could thank him, he came over and kissed my hand, put on his best superhero voice and said “Happy Mothers Day, I love you” then darted from my room, his arms spread out like an airplane, making a loud zooming noise.
Did he just say Happy Mother’s Day? Surely he remembered that it was October. The leaves were starting to change and it was getting cooler by the day. He had to have remembered how we celebrated Mother’s Day just a few months ago.
It was the day my husband had left on a mission. We were still living in a hotel having just arrived at our new duty station three days before. I dismissed his mistake with a shrug and pried myself from the dimpled arms and legs surrounding me. I was too busy making breakfast, braiding hair, changing diapers, and laying out schoolwork to instruct my son on the calendar.
I didn’t give it another thought as I loaded the car seats, children, stroller, diaper bag, my purse and finally myself into the van. We were in hurry to avoid the crowds at the commissary this morning.
Let’s see--we can put the baby in a cart and let Chloe push it. We’ll need Samuel to push a cart for the eleven gallons of milk we drink each week, and then Jacob and Lydia can push carts for the rest of the groceries. I can push the stroller with Daniel and Henry and balance the eggs and bread on top.
I smile politely at the people who stare at us as we walk like a row of ducks into the building. It’s overcrowded and the baby is getting hungry. They are out of plain yogurt and the apples are all bruised. We stand in line for nearly fifteen minutes chatting with strangers who always ask the same questions.
I keep smiling and reply, “No, it’s not a daycare; yes, they are all mine; no, the girls aren’t twins, just 15 months apart, and yes, we do in fact home school.” The children all smile and I am grateful for their sweet attitudes.
We finally leave, $428 poorer, pondering how to fit our bounty into the van. “We’ll put the stroller in first then start loading the milk, put the eggs and bread up by me, load in the babies and everyone else find a spot where you don’t squish the food.” On the twenty minute drive home we talk about the changing season, how much longer until Daddy comes home and the fact that the frozen pot roast sitting on Jacob’s lap is making his legs tingle.
The boys spend fifteen minutes lugging in the groceries that take me nearly three hours to put away. I have to stop to feed the baby, put a band aid on a scrape from a fall in the driveway, and figure how to divide all the food between two pantries and three refrigerators.
A gallon of milk is dropped on the kitchen floor, instantly breaking open and creating a huge mess. Meanwhile a toddler who is going unwatched as his mommy juggles the groceries has gotten into a bag of newly purchased chocolate chips and is making his own little mess.
The groceries are finally put up and schoolwork started when I realize it’s nearly 1:30. I haven’t even started lunch. The rest of the day is spent correcting math, tying shoes, making dinner, catching up on cleaning, doing five loads of laundry and then ultimately bathing seven children and getting them ready to do it all again tomorrow. The house looks like it was hit by a tornado. It takes a bit longer than normal to pick up and tuck them in after our bedtime devotion.
Finally everyone is kissed and sent off to their rooms. There are a few tears for missing Daddy followed by jumping on beds, giggling antics, trips to the bathroom, requests for glasses of water, and then more trips to the bathroom. It is nearly 10 p.m. before everyone is asleep. I have nursed the baby and laid her in the crib in the next room. Henry is snuggled on my lap, trying his best not to fall asleep.
I read my Bible and praise God for my many blessings. I thank Him for his constant love and protection. I praise him for His mercy on my sinful ways, and I thank Him for allowing my husband to have been home to help in the birth of his newest daughter. I ask the Lord to guide me in my husband’s absence and give an extra portion of wisdom in raising these little “arrows” by myself. Then I try my best to fall asleep.
My mind is racing with the day’s events. I try to remember if I locked the back door. I make a mental note to discuss homophones with Samuel. I briefly entertain the idea of getting up to correct Lydia’s penmanship papers.
I hope Jacob hasn’t forgotten to read his Psalm for the day. I remember that I have not changed Sophia’s diaper before putting her down and say a quick prayer that it holds until she wakes up for a feeding.
I notice the basket of sewing sitting near my bed and think about the dresses I still need to cut out for the girls to wear on Thanksgiving. I think about Chloe’s birthday approaching soon and try to remember where I stashed the new Bible her father had bought her.
The house seems extra loud and dark with Doug gone. I decide to turn on the news, hoping it will lull me to sleep. Between the war coverage and stories of sinful people it defeats the intended purpose and I am even more awake.
I decide to spend this quiet time with the Lord. As I finish praying, the phone rings. I look at the clock and realize it is well past midnight. I cautiously pick up the phone. A familiar voice booms, “Hi Honey, did you have a good day?” I try not to get choked up at the sound of my beloved’s voice so far away. “Of course I did. You know today is Mother’s Day.”
WEST COAST, USA
This couple are blessed with seven children - Samuel (11), Jacob (9), Chloe (7), Lydia (6 ), Daniel (4), Henry (17 months), and Sophia (3 months). (Full name withheld because of husband’s secret missions. Pray for Leslianne as she mothers her children for most of the year on her own.)