Babies, Birds’ Nests—and Mamas Forever?

“Honey, you never stop being a mom.”   That’s what my mom always used to tell me.  She’d say that when I was worrying about something in the life of one of my kids—or when she was worried about me!  I’ve been thinking about her words a lot lately.

I think it all started with the birds’ nest we found in a tree in our front yard.  We didn’t even know it as there until one afternoon when we were examining a very sad-looking spruce tree which had been so damaged by the past two winters that it looks like a comma.  That’s what my neighbor calls it: the comma tree.  We were wondering if there was any way to save it—or if it would have to come down.

Suddenly there it was.  Buried deep in the branches was a beautifully built nest with three perfect eggs. The eggs are that spectacular color we call “robin’s egg blue” but which I never thought could be that brilliant in real life. Ever since our discovery, I’ve been monitoring the nest daily—well, more like several times a day.  Most of the time the mama-bird is sitting on it.  As she sits all puffed out on that nest, she looks just like I felt when I was pregnant—fierce and fat.   And very protective.  Very, very protective.   Her expression says it all: “Don’t you even think about messing with my babies!”  (BTW, if you don’t think robins have facial expressions, you really need to meet this one.) Kind of like us human mamas, don’t you think?  But here’s a big difference.  I’ve been wondering how long till those babies will hatch (I’m afraid I will miss them when I’m out of town), so I asked my brother, who knows a lot about birds, what the timetable might be for these babies.  He tells me that once the eggs hatch, the babies will probably only be in the nest 14-18 days.

14-18 days??!!  Quite different from our mom-job, girls.  More like 18 years for us.  At least that’s what I used to think.  Now I know much better.  Each year when Mother’s Day rolls around, I realize even more the truth of my mom’s words.  You never do stop being a mom.  Oh, the job description changes.   Those of you with children over the age of, say, 6 months, know how the job description for a mom changes constantly as our kids need different things from us.

The good thing is that, as they grow, we grow, too.  (I hope that sounds familiar to those of you who’ve done our Mom to Mom curriculum Growing Together)  It’s a very stretching experience, indeed, to be a mom—and I’m not just talking about pregnancy stretch marks!  I remember thinking, when I was a young mom, that I always felt just a little behind my kids.  It seemed I had just gotten the knack of being, for example, a pre-school mom, when suddenly they were in elementary school.   And just as I got comfortable with my role as mother of elementary school kids, they were charging into adolescence.  To say nothing of all the adjustments and new roles as mother of a college student, then mother-in-law—and now, glorious but amazing, a Nana!  All these things I never thought I’d be old enough to be!

No, you never stop being a mom.  Sure, the job description changes.  But here’s what doesn’t: the mama-heart.  I’m reminded of what my friend Mary told me just before Bjorn, our first child, was born.  “Linda,” she said, “being a mom is the best thing ever.  I love being a mom.  But you need to know that, once that baby is born, your life will never be the same again.”  No, not the same.  Once you are a mom, you will forever think differently, sleep differently, pray differently.  For life—and, I suspect, on into eternity.

What was it someone said—“To be a mom is to walk around the rest of your life with your heart outside your body”?  I’m not sure who said it, but it rings true.

Recently we attended a wedding where the bride and groom, both now in their 50’s but once high school sweethearts, have rediscovered each other—and, it seems, their faith, after many twists and turns in the plot of their lives.  They both looked so happy—so very happy.  But the best part of the wedding was watching the groom’s mother beam with joy.  She has prayed many years for this son.  And here he was standing before God and a wonderful Godly pastor, entering into a very Christian marriage.  The mother of the groom is over 80 years old.

No, we never stop being moms.  That’s why I wanted to take time out this week from our “great questions from moms” topic  (we’ll get back to it soon!) to salute every mom reading this blog—and even those who don’t!  Whether you are an expectant mom, a brand-new mom, an exhausted toilet-training mom, an exasperated teen-mom, or the mom of a much-loved young adult who seems to be taking the long way around to God … I salute you!  You are doing a phenomenally important job.  Whether you are changing diapers or living in your van between soccer matches or wearing out your knee pads praying a prodigal home, you are doing something no one else can do.

You are loving your children as only a mom can.  And you are, I trust, praying for them as only a mom can.   As Winston Churchill famously said, “Never never never never never never give up!”   Even when—and there are so many days like this in our mom-lives—you feel like it.  God hasn’t given up on them—or you.  Just keep changing those knee-pads.

Happy Mothers' Day!