The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of a Mom's Heart
A few weeks ago I was standing in the middle of absolute chaos at our local children’s museum. My son and his cousins were swirling around me along with about eight zillion stranger’s kids like some sort of kid-nado that was surely going to bring down the whole building. I was contemplating the long summer stretched before me, wondering if both my son and I would make it to the other side alive. As we traipsed from room to room, or rather as museum staff shuffled us from room to room trying to help us avoid the kid vomit on the first floor and the human feces on the third floor, I had two thoughts. One: How did mothers in the Prohibition Era survive motherhood? And two: What in the world are Levi and I going to do all summer? Both answers arrived quicker than I thought.
First, I made the decision that moms in the Prohibition Era were bootleggers. I have not googled this but I feel confident this is the only way they would have survived.
Second, my phone buzzed with a text message. It was from a friend of mine asking if I wanted to come work with her part time for the summer but she needed an answer ASAP. Immediately everything changed. I got on the phone with my husband and over the din of screaming children and (replica) dinosaur bones whizzing over my head, we started figuring out child care and budgets and schedules and before I knew it, I was going back to work the next week for the first time since becoming a mother 6 years prior.
And just like that the long summer that a moment ago was endlessly stretched before me was shrunken down to about half its size. And as I looked at my son in that moment, his six years on earth suddenly seemed way too few for me to leave him. And the snot pouring from his nose like a never ending faucet now looked endearing to me rather than moments before when I physically gagged upon sight of it. The sweat drenching his brow because, for the love of all that was good and holy he would not stop running around no matter how many times I shouted at him to slow down, was now simply a heart tugging reminder of how much energy and life his little body held. In a heartbeat I went from a soul filled with dread and worry over the prospect of spending WAY too much time with my son, to being filled with dread and worry over the realization I was now going to have way too little time with him.
This, my friends, is the true curse of motherhood. Yes, Eve and her forbidden fruit inflicted onto all of us many burdens including that whopper of pain in childbirth, but we have drugs for that now. The one aspect of her fall we will battle ‘til our dying days is having our hearts being constantly split in two by these little bundles of joy/pain we have brought into this world. It never ceases to amaze me that I can look at my son with both all the love in the world for him and all the fury of a mom who cannot believe he is capable of destroying our entire home with a single granola bar.
My mom heart lives in two places at all times. It rejoices when my son reaches new levels of independence and it grieves the loss of him no longer needing me. And I keep teaching him new skills to succeed at life, like crawling and walking and running and riding a bike and one day (good lord, be merciful) driving a car. And with each of these freedoms comes the pain of realizing I just taught him a new way to go farther from me.
Living with this mother’s heart can be painful at times but there is a deep blessing hidden inside it, as well. It gives me a glimpse into the fraction of love/pain my heavenly Father feels for me on a daily basis. It is hard for me to imagine someone loving me as fiercely and profoundly as I love my son. And yet, God’s love for me is mountains taller and oceans deeper than my love for my child.
And when I mess up, when I grieve my Father, which I do on a regular basis, I can often become overwhelmed with sorrow and shame over my transgressions and I begin to feel as if there is no way a good God can love me now. And then I look at my son, Levi. I see the good and the bad in him. I see the lies he tells, the tantrums he throws, the acts of complete and total disobedience and yet...I love him. In the midst of his sins against me, I love him because I was made to love him as unconditionally as any human is capable.
It’s easy to view this heart as one that is divided or at war within itself. But rather, I have come to see my mother’s heart has given me a rare glimpse of the heart belonging to the One who loves me perfectly...with His whole heart. I love my son with my whole heart. Not a heart divided, but one that is perfectly unified in my enduring love for this little 6 year old soul I have been given to look after.
God’s love is one that is whole hearted. He is perfectly unified in His love for me. He loves me when my nose is snotty, when I love other people well, when I love other people poorly and when I am destroying the world He gave me with a granola bar. He simply loves me.
Motherhood has taken my heart on a myriad of adventures in these short 6 years. And each time I look deep inside it I see the love of my Father.
About the Author: Reagan Perkins wears a lot of hats in life but her favorites by far are wife to Greg and mom to Levi. She lives in Orlando, FL and her biggest claim to fame is she has yet to step on a Lego. You can find more of her writing at her blog, It Ain’t All Rainbows.