I’m going to paraphrase a story I heard today:

A little boy around age 10 asked him mom if he could play outside near their pond (they lived in Florida). She said yes, as she was going to do the dishes and watch him out the window. A few minutes later, she looked out and saw a alligator coming toward him, but she could also see that her son did not yet see the alligator. She took off running and yelling toward him, but it was too late. A battle ensued: the mom and the alligator fighting for the boy. A few minutes later, a neighbor heard the screaming and came to help. They were able to pull the boy from the alligator’s grip.

A few days later, the boy was interviewed in the hospital. He was going to make a full recovery and was excited about the attention. He showed the lacerations on his legs and body to the reporter, and then showed his arms, which were covered with deep scratches, and said, “These are my favorite.”

The reported, perplexed, asked why.

The boy answered, “These are from my mom holding on to me.”

… As I heard this story, which was part of a sermon, I was sitting alone in my car outside Kohl’s. (I pause to point out here that moments before that I was popping a Dove dark chocolate into my mouth and feeling not just relieved but ELATED to get OUT of the house ALONE. Ah, mommy guilt never ends!) Anyway, Rod was home and the girls were napping, so I had gone for a quick run there to pick up gifts from my dad’s birthday and Mother’s Day. I cried when I heard the end of the story (surprise, I know). I thanked God aloud for letting me be a mom.

I know someday I will have to fight for my children in some capacity. In some ways, I already have. But after the battles have been waged, I hope they will be able to see me as a hero.

I know moms who have fought for their children this year and won. I applaud them. I admire their bravery.

I know moms who have fought for their children this year… and have had to let go. My heart breaks for them. And I admire their bravery.

I know women who have not yet had the overwhelming pleasure of holding a child that is theirs in their arms. I have been there. To these women I say: HOLD ON. Every woman who loves a child makes a difference in that child’s life, be it as an aunt, a godmother, a stepmom (hallelujah!) or a special friend. I pause here to say that my BFF Jen – my kids’ Aunt Jen – enriches their lives not just by loving them or giving them cool treats, but by giving their mommy a place to go and hang and relax and feel like a human being for a few hours. THANK YOU!

Mother’s Day is upon us, of course, and so, I was thinking back to the last few, and how they went for me:

(shortly after Mothers Day 2005) - I could wear a size S dress but could not get pregs...

Mother’s Day, 2005
I was fresh from a diagnosis of ‘you’ll likely never get pregnant.’ I remember looking around our church and realizing I was the only adult female there who wasn’t also a mother. I have written volumes about this feeling. It aches.
Photo: (shortly after Mother’s Day 2005) – I could wear a size “S” dress but could not get pregs…

(Shortly after Mothers Day 2006)

Mother’s Day, 2006
I was pregnant. I was glowing. I was dreaming of everything it was going to be. Photo: Shortly after Mother’s Day 2006, when we used to go to the zoo without bags, snacks, and diapers!

Im pretty sure there has never been a happier new mommy than I was...

Mother’s Day, 2007
It was more than I ever dreamed it could be. Perhaps you can tell from this photo, I’m pretty sure there has never been a happier new mommy than I was…

My dreams of motherhood AND girls in matching clothes came true!

Mother’s Day, 2008
It was WAY more than I ever dreamed it could be. (My dreams of motherhood AND girls in matching clothes came true… oh, and I spent part of it on our new bus!)

As I look to Mother’s Day 2009, I am more joyful than ever to be a mom of 4. I have come to a place of understanding about my “I do” kids, Josh and Paige. I know I will never be their mom, but they are my kids, and they have my heart, my loyalty, and all I have to give.

I will never ‘understand’ Miranda and Kaity. They are indescribable gifts to me. I look at them and wonder how anything so beautiful could come from me (& Rod… sorry, honey!). I’m not ‘over it’ yet. I hope I never am. I never thought I would have babies, and I have 2 little girls who have made my life amazing, who have made my life a miracle.

And yet, there are some shadows over the day this year. It will be the first one since my grandma died. Though the relationship was broken years ago, for my mom, the sorrow will be new and difficult. For MaryBeth and Heather and Cheryl and others whose angels are no longer with them this year… well, I can’t begin to fathom what they will be feeling. I can only place my faith in a God who always carries His children when they can no longer stand.

During this past year, I was blessed beyond measure to find a “mom’s group.” I know this seems like a silly Gen-X thing, but it’s not. Women through history have joined together in various ways to raise their kids, and in our 21st Century, organic snacks/parenting books/obsessive way, we are doing the same. I call these women, my new friends and I hope my life friends, The Mommies… but I have come to think of them as my friends of iron. We have served to sharpen each other through our varying experiences and perspectives. We have shared elation and mourning and really good food together. And through the teachings I have encountered with these women, I have embraced something that eluded me… in all my guilt about not doing enough, in all my worry about quitting my job to be an at home mom, in all my doubt about my abilites… I have emerged with the truth I now cling to in the midst of tantrums, sleeplessness, dirty floors, accidents on the couch, teenage drama, and failed outings: Motherhood is a ministry, and it’s THE Most Important Job assigned to me in this time and place.

As always, I thank God & Rod for this opportunity. And I will try my best not to mess it up too much!