The Exquisite Ache of Mothering

022387 Brand new Allison (crop)
Welcome to the world!

These are things I ask myself: Why does a woman long for motherhood? Just what is the irresistible draw?  Is it the desire to bring a child into the security of a warm circle of love?  The particular mix of hormones brought on by the passage of a certain number of birthdays? Acquiescence to relentless pressure from family and friends? An unquenchable desire to love and be loved in a wholly unique way?

Perhaps it’s a combination of all these. Whatever the answer, if God should allow her that privilege, there are a few things she should know:

Nothing will ever be simple again. She will be among the most vulnerable of God’s creatures. Her heart will forever pulsate outside her body, exposed and endangered, and she will live with an exquisitely beautiful ache. She will become more and more dependent on God as her child grows to become less dependent on her.

Her emotions will at times be agonizingly raw. She will be desperate to protect her child; more so when she realizes she can’t. Her mind will explode with near-murderous rage toward those who would harm her child — or any child, for she will become concerned for the unprotected in a universal sense. Would you steal her daughter’s innocence? Would you intentionally demean another’s son? Would you abuse any child mentally, emotionally, or physically?  She will not, she cannot, forgive.

Then she will hear Christ, gasping for breath, asking forgiveness for His tormentors; loving them in spite of their cruelty. 

Sobs will escape unchecked from her throat upon hearing a mother spew obscenities at her child from behind a neighborhood fence; anger will threaten to overtake her when another hisses abusive words at her young son in the grocery store. She will want to intervene, to protect, to punish.

And she will recognize Christ’s near audible whisper, “Think of how it makes Me feel.”

Her heart will be knit together with a woman whose language she will never know, whose culture she cannot understand. She will realize the mother with the starving child at her breast is consumed by the same intense love that she feels, yet cannot even provide for her child’s most basic needs. That mother’s longings and questions go unanswered, and the resignation is carved in her unsmiling face. The pain of empathy will be excruciating, and she will be overwhelmed by guilt. Then relief. And finally gratitude, that according to God’s unfathomable plan, she was born in this place, at this time, for the sake of her own dear child.

And she will remember another mother, who watched helplessly as her Child was crucified at the hands of people motivated by fear and hate, because of His great love – even for His executioners. 

Laughing with Grandma
Laughing with Grandma

She will pass long months, even years, feeling that her value in the world has been diminished by the death of her own mother, and will experience a deep impoverishment from the loss of that unique relationship. She will weep for what her child has lost, too, for they are both the poorer without her mother’s unconditional love.

And she will be reminded of the One who will never leave her nor forsake her, who loves her with an everlasting love, and in whose presence her mother now abides.

She will spend countless anxious days and sleepless nights over the years: a single mom with a crying infant, a feverish toddler, a confused, heartbroken teen, a disillusioned young adult. At times she will be weary and think she is defeated. Her strength will be exhausted and she will think she can’t go on.

And then she will realize His strength is made perfect in her weakness; that she can lean into His embrace and find renewal in His sufficiency – a Heavenly Father, for both her and her child.

She will grieve with her sister and dear friends from whom motherhood has been withheld, mystified at God’s purpose in denying such a pure and selfless desire. She will wonder at the reasons behind an early death that leaves young children motherless, or a young mother childless; at a mental handicap that steals a child’s potential and brings life-long grief to his parents.

Then her eyes will open to her Lord on His knees in agony, sweating great drops of blood, crying out for deliverance from His fate, then humbly relinquishing all to His Father, whose heart He trusts.

Allison snowflakeShe will learn to value the present moment through the eyes of her child: Chasing the first fireflies of summer, getting “kissed” by a squirming puppy, catching snowflakes on her tongue, laughing at inside jokes. She will make a conscious effort to slow down the “fast forward” of life and savor each frame along the way. Yet in every lovely moment, she will experience a tinge of sad awareness that it cannot last.

Then she will ponder the truth that every good and perfect gift is from above and she will think of the promise of Heaven, where community with those she loves will be an eternal present moment.

It will seem as though her physical being has been miraculously expanded, for no matter where she is or what she is doing, a part of her will be with her child. She will think of her, desire the best for her, and be concerned for her even when they are thousands of miles apart. Her child will mean more to her than her own life.

And she will be reminded of the Holy Spirit, whose indwelling, protecting presence in her and her child was made possible because of One who loved them more than His life.

There will be shattering pain and the purest imaginable joy. Sometimes life will be maddeningly mundane. But she will never doubt she is alive. In unexpected moments, love will course through her like an electric current, bringing a shudder at its intensity. She will find new interest in causes reaching beyond her lifetime – her child’s eternal destiny chief among them. That same child may disappoint her and break her heart but her love will endure forever.

And she will have glimpsed the heart of God.

About Diane Rivers

Diane is a native Floridian whose career as an FBI Agent got her transferred to the North. She's retired from that gig now and "repurposed" as a freelance writer, author, and sometimes poet who blogs about the bumpy, bone-jostling ride of her “workaround” life. She loves Jesus, her family, black coffee, kayaking, biking, and hiking, and she looks forward to eternity with the One who will make all things beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

4 thoughts on “The Exquisite Ache of Mothering”

  1. Thanks Diane for a lovely post. The intersection of maternal experience and divine intervention was especially profound. A very fitting reflection on this important day. Happy Mother’s day to you!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Joyce! Not everyone has a positive experience of motherhood, as you know, but even in the less than ideal relationships, I believe God’s heart and hand are evident.

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