Babies, Mamas . . . and their Mamas

I’m back! After 18 wonderful days (and nights—well, maybe they weren’t always so wonderful!) with Gabriella and her parents, I’m back home. And I’m up way too early. Amazing what jet lag does to you—it is, after all, nearly halfway through the day in Dublin.

In these dark and cold (here on the frozen tundra, our backyard thermometer reads below zero—I’m not sure I want to know how much below) early morning hours, I’m thinking thoughts of babies and mothers—and, of course, also the mothers of those mothers.

I’ve come home from my immersion in new-baby-land with two big impressions.

First, I am newly amazed and awed at the love God gives to a mother for her child. To both parents, really—but I am writing primarily to mothers here. It’s amazing what a mother will go through. Not only to give birth—that’s medal-of-honor material in itself. But how about the absolute and complete re-arrangement of your life when you bring that baby home? Topsy-turvy days and nights—if you can even tell the difference! Painful tenderness in all kinds of body parts you rarely thought about before. The need for a caravan (and household staff) just to get you out the door. I really don’t need to go on—you all remember this!

It was a great privilege to watch my daughter become, seemingly almost instantly, such a wonderful mother. And to see the way both Richie and Erika love this beautiful child beyond words even amidst their sleep-deprived fog of new parenting. I have new admiration for all of you reading this who are doing (and have done) the same thing.

My second big impression is a bit more personal. I just have to say that it is hard—very hard—to leave a daughter and granddaughter and get on a plane and fly 8 or 9 hours in the other direction. I envy any of you nanas who don’t have to do this. But this morning I’ve actually moved beyond my personal little pity party. I find myself thinking differently about the Christmas story.

For the first time ever, I find myself thinking of Mary’s mother. I’ve often thought of what that journey to Bethlehem on a donkey must have been like for just-about-to-deliver Mary. In fact, Erika and I talked often of this as we rocked Gabriella in the middle of the night.

But for some reason, I had never thought about Mary’s mother. The Bible tells us nothing about her, so of course this is all speculation. But what must it have been like to see your daughter set off on such a journey at such a time? And then probably not to see (or possibly even hear from) your child—and grandchild—for most likely several years? This was, after all, way before frequent flyer miles and email and Skype and cheap international phone rates!

I just read, for seemingly the thousandth time, Mary’s words to the angel upon learning of the Child she was to bear. The angel Gabriel has just answered Mary’s very human questions with the reminder that “nothing is impossible with God.” And Mary responds (in Luke 1:38), “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

Those words have always astounded me. Stopped me right in my tracks. Made me almost speechless. And this morning I’m wondering whether Mary’s own mother had a similar heart response. And maybe that’s what made it possible for her to let Mary go.

Where did they (both Mary and, maybe—just maybe—her mom, too) get the strength to do this? The answer may just lie in my new granddaughter’s name. Gabriella means, I’ve just learned, “God gives strength.” And He does, doesn’t He? To mamas and their mamas all over the world. Then and now. Thank you Jesus! And may each of your reading this feel His strength this Advent season.

A closing personal note: I can’t resist including a few extra pictures this time—thanks for indulging this “Nana.” And . . . one more bit of exciting news from our family: we’re going to have another granddaughter in May! Lars and Kelly just learned from her ultrasound that Bengt is going to get the baby sister he’s been wanting. Lots to celebrate in our family this year. We give thanks.