It was the middle of the dark night and I was sleeping alone, my husband tucked snug into his bunk at the station. The bed felt cold and big and sleep was slow to come. When it finally found me, it didn’t keep me long.
A little blonde head with big brown eyes and a raggedy teddy bear reach out a questioning hand to touch my face. In the gentle glow from the night lantern I made out his tiny pale face and watched as he popped his thumb in his mouth, uncertain.
He wanted in. He wanted me. He needed to be close and to know he was safe and to feel he was loved.
I reached out a sleep-weak arm and helped him climb up.
He settled in, snuggled up close. I rested my chin on the top of his soft head, ready for sleep. But then I felt his sweet mouth touch my cheek and heard the whispered words, I love you so much, Mama. A moment later he was asleep.
But those words stole my tired. They left me almost breathless with a racing heart. And as I laid there listening to the gentle breathing of my contented child, it hit me.
He just flat loves me. He doesn’t keep score of all the times I fail. He doesn’t lie awake thinking how mama fed him cold cereal for supper, again. He doesn’t cling to a grudge when I deny his request for pancakes and french fries. And he isn’t horrified to find me sleeping in the same pajamas I’d worn all day.
His heart is pure and wide open. And it needs me to fill those places only a mother can fill.
Imperfect mothers fill little boys hearts everywhere. Working class mothers. Single mothers. Exhausted and cranky mothers. Mothers with too much on their plates and mothers who feel they have no plate at all. Mothers with stained clothes and stretched out underclothing. Mothers who want a hot shower without frantic pounding on the door.
Just every kind of mother out there.
Me? Well, I’m a little piece of all those mothers wrapped into one very inadequate woman who beats herself silly for not being more.
Because who needs enemies when you have those voices in your head, you know? The ones who tell you to slow down and hurry up….like that mom over there.
Only that mom isn’t real. She’s a badly photoshopped version of a mother without even one pretty little toe dipped in reality. Yet, we feel threatened by her.
She’s the shadow that chases us and the fuel behind the voices which tear us down until we give up. Defeated.
We’re not good moms, we tell ourselves. We’re terrible, horrible, selfish, impatient women who have been given a job we can’t fill. We’re getting it all wrong and everybody knows it. Everybody, that is, except our children.
Because they think we’re beautiful. They love our smile more than anything in the world and the sound of our laughter is like tinkling bells of joy. They thrive in our presence, especially when we slow down enough to catch the sparkle in their eye and their need to be noticed.
It’s like a flood of light pouring into my weary soul just to know I am loved so purely by another human. To know that He’s standing in the gaps of my failure, not insisting I be flawless to win the heart of my precious child.
Weary from the battle I had just waged within my mind and soul, I felt myself give into sleep once again. And as I caressed the sweet hand so warm in my own, I breathed the only prayer I could muster in that moment…
Thank you for making me his mom.