I may have shared this story about my mom before. She got up early and was packing me a lunch of my favorites-- chicken salad and such-- when I was headed back to Memphis from Lake J last summer. I was pregnant, but not even showing yet. Life was feeling very full.
As I stumbled into the kitchen at the Allgood House, I said, "Oh mom, you don't have to do that!"
Her reply comes back to me a lot these days. "Sarah, it's never about what you have to do."
She is so right, isn't she? Being a mommy isn't about what you "have to do." Granted, there are many things which frequently must be done. It is a part of it from day one. Baby has to be fed, baby needs time with mom and dad, baby needs diaper changes. There are many, many things that must be done.
But it is also about going the extra mile, isn't it? I can feed my baby, change his diapers, and play with him. But I can also intentionally sing the scriptures to him, play with him lovingly, and devote my time to him. And it is impossible to underestimate the importance of a mommy's attitude.
So last night, when my baby was up wailing at 3:30 in the morning, I was on the verge of a pity party. Now that he regularly sleeps through the night, I hate it when he wakes up in the middle of it. Selfishly, I figure we are beyond that stage, or at least, we should be. Nevertheless, I had to do something. I stumbled my way into the kitchen and fixed that sweet baby a bottle. I decided that if he was waking up he really must need something, since he so rarely wakes up anymore.
All mommies have to do these things sometimes, yes. But it isn't about what you have to do. I am so grateful for a mom and dad who taught me that.
I am blessed, beyond measure, to be the mother of this little boy named Holman. I am thrilled to be the one who changes his diapers, who plays with him, who sings to him, to holds him when he needs me. I am abundantly blessed to have a husband who allows me to stay home and enjoy these early moments of Holman's life. And yes, I am blessed to be the one who gets to go the extra mile for my baby.
That doesn't make me special or praiseworthy. All mommies go the extra mile. There isn't a trophy for going the extra mile. Sometimes, motherhood will feel like one big long extra mile. But it is so worth it.
Sometimes it will be enough just to pause, look at my darling boy, and sigh because I am the one who gets to be called his mother.
But even on the toughest days, I am encouraged by the Word:
"Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men." Colossians 3:23
If my mothering makes Jesus smile, then I know without a doubt, it will be worth it.