|"Mother and Child" by Xi Pan|
My Mother's Day began with little squeaks and shouts from the corner bedroom. I was happy to hear them despite the early hour, because I had to leave for work in three minutes and I wanted to get at least a kiss and a squeeze before heading off to work.
My day was filled with hanging chemotherapy and convincing teenagers to drink water and take pills. My husband texted me some cute pictures of Cal playing outside. My coworkers wished me Happy Mother's Day. I received texts from my family members. But the experience that hit me the hardest was from an unexpected source.
There is a sweet little patient on our unit whose mom isn't able to be there. This baby girl cries from the moment she wakes up until late at night, when she collapses in exhaustion. The only relief for her is having someone to hold her. Even when she is the only patient her nurse is assigned to, that nurse can't be in the room every moment -- there are tasks to accomplish that are outside the room, information to document, and so on.
Today I had some extra time, so when this patient's nurse went to lunch and this little girl's wails and cries for mama started ringing in the halls I went into her room for some snuggle time. This sweet little toddler locked her arms around me and nestled into my neck. Within minutes she was asleep, and I held her for about a half hour, until another nurse with some extra time came in to get some snuggles of her own.
As I held this little angel baby, a few thoughts were going through my head. First of all, I thought how lucky it was that this girl who was missing her mama and this mama who was missing her baby on Mother's Day could have a few moments to comfort each other. I also thought of how this lonely little child was so precious to her Heavenly Father, and that although her outward appearance betrayed nothing of her royal heritage, in reality she is a little princess beloved by a King.
And finally, I thought of the talk, "Are Not We All Mothers?" by Sheri Dew. (My lovely friend Kristin also highlighted a quote from this talk today, and it seemed meant to be as we both seem to be pondering along similar wavelengths these days). In this talk, Sister Dew states, "Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born." This doesn't mean that if we are not yet mothers we are failing. It means that if we are not yet mothers, it is simply because the fulness of that promise has not yet been unfolded to us. It also means that the nurturing, mothering love that is nascent in all of us is not limited to the children that we carry and bear.
I think of my sweet 8-year-old niece, who already has a mother heart and spends family gatherings holding the babies and bringing them toys to play with. I think of those who teach in churches and schools and the tender ways they impart the gift of knowledge to their students. I think of the women to whom I entrust my precious boy when I am called away to "take care of the sick babies." I think of the friends I know who have carried babies and lost them; those that are still waiting for a pregnancy to appear. I am privileged to have the blessing of mothering in a small way the children that come to be treated on my unit.
I think the lesson Mother's Day brought to me today was that in addition to the beautiful sacrifices made by my own mother, and the appreciation that I myself enjoyed from my husband and son (we celebrated yesterday), are the everyday moments of divine womanhood and nurturing that every woman has the ability to give. I'm grateful for the women who came before me, from my mother and grandmothers to Eve, and I'm grateful for the women contemporary with me, from whom I learn every day, regardless of whether or not they are "officially" mothers. I'm grateful for the illuminating moment I experienced about the spark of divinity within us all.