As Song Leader of the Junior Sunday School, I had the power.
“Shall we excuse the three-year-olds early today?” I asked the room full of 4-8 year-olds.
They all nodded in relief. With singing time on pause, the teachers of the youngest class (whose hard-day-on-the-ranch had just begun), rounded up thirteen little ones and headed out. The incendiary behind that extra-rowdy band stared me down as he brought up the rear. “The Kid” (as I mentally dubbed him) had outdone himself that day, exciting the herd into a near-stampede.
As soon as the dust settled, the rest of the Sunday School went back to practicing the Mother’s Day program.
Less than twenty-four hours later I had an accidental run-in with The Kid and his mom at the town saloon (Applebees at lunchtime). Instead of daring me to a fast draw, however, the feisty three-year-old lit up like the stars of Wyoming.
In a voice loud enough for the whole restaurant to hear and pointing straight at me, he bubbled, “Mommy! That Curly Lady said Father in Heaven sent me to YOU!”
His delightful interpretation of our little Mother’s Day song…
Mother, I love you.
Mother I do.
Father in Heaven has sent me to you.
…gave my curly head lots to muse about over the next several days.
Does God send children to specific mothers for specific reasons? What about my own four children?
In my youth, I felt impervious to adversity; that is until my first baby grew physically––but not mentally. I had sensed an impending challenge for months, even when everything seemed perfectly normal. Slightly more experienced friends had laughed when I confessed my fears. But mommies are myth-busters, not mythmakers, and I knew before the doctors knew. Thirty-seven years later, I bathe, dress, transport and feed her…
…aaannnd don’t -u- know: that’ll mold or melt a person.
A second baby arrived, and though thrilled with a healthy boy, my intuition kicked into high gear. I sensed a call to brace myself. His super-charged intellect has subsequently taken me through so many hills and valleys and twists and turns, I have felt upside-down for most of his thirty-five years. It took me almost that long to get my heart on straight; its capacity for charity has grown (like Mr. Grinch’s) at least “three sizes.” I love him in a way that I can love no one else.
During a third pregnancy, I discerned a different sort of personality. Even prenatally, this child soothed and comforted. Like a warm blanket, his humility, consistency, and sweet creativity have calmed my heart. Following close behind came his compatriot––and mine: a girl who shouldered the responsibilities of a firstborn daughter in cheerfully caring for her sister and leading an optimistic, service-oriented life. I felt our team spirit by the time she turned two.
Musing on these things, I couldn’t help humming “Mother I love you…” over and over the following week. With each repetition of “Father in Heaven has sent me to you…” I began to feel more and more there really was a reason.
If the universe either orchestrates key elements in our lives or else gives us opportunities to make the most of what happens to us, then perhaps I am my children’s mama because of what I, in particular, can do for them. On reflection, that idea––to me––almost seems obvious; after all, my every breath was and still is, for their sakes.
However, the possibility that my children are my children because of what they do for me seemed even more profound, mysterious, and actually, supremely wonderful. After some journal writing and reviewing, it became clear to me that my character had burst out of the ground when those particular personalities sprang into my life. I grew as they grew; our individual strengths and weaknesses intertwining in a garden that is our own.
I am the fruit of my children.
That thought will pervade my heart, as it does every year when the Junior Sunday School sings for their mothers this coming Sunday. And I’ll remind myself, as I do every year, that all those beautiful banditos are very much at home on their particular range with their particular mother…
because that is exactly where they are supposed to be.