I think one of the hardest things to do as a mother, is to parent your children in the middle of a storm. When the waves are crashing down around you, and you feel like you can’t even breathe, to still get up and make breakfast. To still brush their teeth and listen to their stories. To still play make-believe, when you don’t know what to believe anymore. To still sing songs and try to smile, with the broken heart aching inside you. And then, on top of all that, to field their questions that have no answers. To hold them as they are feeling the pain that your kisses cannot fix. Their uncontrollable sobs that shake their entire little bodies. They need so much more than any energy you have to offer. To go to bed so very weary. Some nights quietly crying yourself to sleep. And still, get up the next morning and do it all over again.
Because that’s what a mother does. She keeps going. Even when the going gets tough. She lives for her children. Even the ones she might have had to bury. Because a mother’s love is so strong it becomes unshakable. Even through the pain. She can be sleep-deprived and puked on and sick herself and exhausted and still show up. Still strive to be everything that everyone needs her to be. Because a mother’s love knows no end.
And the storm will rage and the waves will crash all around her. And, if it weren’t for her children she just might surrender to it all. Let it swallow her just so she can find rest. But, not when she knows that they need her. Not when she knows they would be the ones left suffering. Not when she knows only a mother’s love will do.
So she fights. She gets out of bed and goes into their room every morning. Holding her breath as she wakes them, hoping with everything in her that they, too, are not blue when she turns on the light. She helps them get ready for the day and sends them off to school. Leaving empty handed, when a little girl should be in her arms. She picks them up early and takes them to counseling appointments. And then to the pet shop to love on all the puppies. She foregoes extracurricular activities, so they can be home, together as a family, as much as possible. She takes them to go buy toys for their baby sister, then lets them run through the sprinklers when they are visiting her at the cemetery. She lets them sleep in when there are late night tears – tears for things we will never understand. And she cries with them. And ignores the 14 tardies tacked on the end of their report cards. She lets them eat popcorn for breakfast, sprinkle glitter in the living room, roll down the car windows and jump on their beds. Because she wants to foster whatever is left of the magic of childhood for as long as possible. She tries to say yes more than she says no, even though she is tired and weary in every part of her being. From mothering in the middle of the storm.
And she breaks. Falls, cracked and shattered, into a mess on the kitchen floor. Crying for relief. For all that has been lost. For all that has yet to be done. For all the ways she feels like she fails them daily. Until the tears stop, and she knows. She has to get back up again. So she does. Over and over again. She fights. She fights for herself and she fights for her children. The warrior God created her to be rises to the occasion with natural instinct and she does whatever it takes. Whatever it takes for them to know they are safe and loved. Whatever it takes to be who they need her to be. Whatever it takes to make it through the storm.
And her arms strengthen from holding her babies. Her endurance grows from her perseverance through long nights. Her mind becomes unbeatable from her constant prayers over them. Over them all. Her faith in herself and in her God meld together into one. She learns to give herself time, hot baths and grace. She learns she can do all things with Christ. Even the hardest of hard days. That you only have to get through every day, and every moment, once. She learns who she really is and what she’s truly capable of. She learns what is most important is who she is teaching them to be.
And she becomes a teacher to her children. An example of what it looks like to struggle and cry and fight. Fight to be more. To not back down when the going gets tough. To not be satisfied with being unsatisfied. To take heart and take action. To lean into God and trust for Him to carry you through. Even when you can’t see the other side. A teacher of what it means to be a warrior. Of what it means to be strong as a mother.