After the call that informed me I was pregnant (there were no at home pregnancy tests – apparently a rabbit had to give its life or some such nonsense!) I waited with great anticipation to know whether my first child would be a son or daughter.
With every visit to the obstetrician I anxiously listened to the heartbeat and every time, he said “Girl”. The baby’s heartbeat was fast and that was the gender predictor of the day.
Shortly before my due date, I climbed out of the back seat of a friend’s two door car and my water broke.
My husband brought a stack of bath towels to the door where I stood soggy, still producing an impressive geyser of amniotic fluid. I waddled in and sat on the only safe seat I could think of, the toilet.
My anxious hubby hurried into the living room and phoned the on-call physician, who insisted that he needed to speak directly to me. Our only phone was a rotary, attached to the wall as all phones were in the early 70’s. I had to waddle into the living room, stack of wet towels wedged between my legs, to face the inquisition.
“Are you sure you didn’t just wet your pants?”
“Pretty sure I’ve never produced that much urine in my lifetime. Nope. Didn’t wet my pants.”
“Do you think you could have? Because, you know, that’s common this far along in your pregnancy.”
“Here’s the thing…. I have wet my pants before. I can’t laugh with a full bladder and I tend to wait too long to empty it, so let’s just agree that I have experience in this realm. This was no accident.”
Finally, we headed to the hospital where it was confirmed that I had not wet my pants. (Insert eye roll and snarky “I told ya so!”)
Twenty-four hours and zero anesthesia later, I pushed a beautiful baby girl (he was right!) into the world. To this day, that was the best work I’ve ever done. At nineteen years old I was a mom; I didn’t fully understand or appreciate the tension of motherhood.But I loved my baby and together with her father, I was determined that she would have the best we could provide. When her sister came along a few years later, we doubled down on that commitment.
I dreamed big dreams for our girls. I drew mental pictures of their lives, illustrating my plans for them. I wanted them to know Jesus and I wanted them to be “good” girls, but I wanted all of the things that the world said they needed as well.
Somewhere along the way, their dreams superseded mine. Their lives took the form of their interests, their goals and the desires of their hearts.
I was recently reminded of a passage I discovered years ago. It compares children to arrows.
“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.” – Psalm 127:4
I was curious, so I researched the basic points of shooting a bow:
- Stance is important. Stand upright with your feet well-planted.
- Keep a relaxed grip on the bow.
- Don’t grip the arrow – let it rest on the string.
- Pull back the string using your back muscles, not the smaller biceps in your arm.
- Aim at the target as you look down the length of the arrow.
- Relax your grip on the string and let your fingers slip backward.
- Maintain your stance – follow through is key to landing the target.
Although I started this Mom gig with zero archery training I can see some correlation.
Sometimes life got in the way and I didn’t give proper attention to the unique character of each of my children. I wish I had understood more about getting to know them deeply.
There were too many times that I looked at someone else’s target. I was distracted by what others were doing, or by what they might have thought about what we were doing. Now I know that none of that mattered.
The picture that I had attached to the bulls-eye for each of my girls looked little or nothing like the lives they are living, but I’ve come to realize that those visions were mine, not theirs or even God’s.
My girls have gone places I would not have had the courage to step. They’ve navigated land mines and treacherous terrain and fifteen passenger vans to fight for and provide for their families. They’ve taken financial risks and gambled their hearts.
It’s not always pretty, this journey of mothering, but by God’s grace those arrows will land.
As moms there is great tension between our longing for our children to remain close to us in a comfortable and safe place, and the desire to see them walk out God’s call on their lives.
This Mother’s Day, I write to encourage you. God is for you and your babies. If you could glimpse into my heart, you would see it hasn’t been easy to let go of my dreams in favor of His plans. But I’m learning that as much as I love my girls, he loves them more.
He’s got them, Momma.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
– 3 John 1:4
Letting go by his grace alone,