She was heartbroken.
Because, even though her 5-year old Cousin Anna was still downstairs playing with Gideon, it was naptime, and 3-year old girls simply must have their rest.
It’s funny, isn’t it, that the ears of a mother can discern the different tunes and chords of their children’s cries? And while Miss Sunday is notorious for her loud, fake cry that she can turn off and on like a switch, this cry was real and deep, and I felt her pain in my own heart.
How tempting it was to give her the afternoon off and allow her to indulge in her heart’s desire, but we had a long night ahead, and I knew that she and I would both pay if I allowed her that luxury.
And so I held her, instead.
Sitting on her brother’s twin-sized bed, she straddled my waist and buried her head on my shoulder where I could feel her tears sinking into my shirt. We rocked, together, riding out the storm of her hurt, and I absent-mindedly mused over what a blessed invention the rocking chair was, created, I am sure, for moments such as these.
Still yet, mamas can rock just about anywhere, even without a special chair.
“Can I sing to you?” I asked her, searching for any means with which to ease her sadness.
She nodded, and her wails of despair immediately calmed down in both decibel and frequency.
First it was her standard favorite, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. And then the old standby “Rock-a-bye Baby”. With each word I sang, her tears ebbed a little more, and she began to relax on my chest.
And then I heard her muffled voice from my shoulder: “Just one more?…”.
I breathed in the smell of her long, golden hair and relished the feel of her warm body cuddled into mine as I perused my musical index for the perfect song to describe the way she makes me feel…
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey.
You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you,
Oh please don’t take my sunshine away…
I sang the song to her, the words flowing directly from my heart to her ears, and as I sang, I praised God for the gift of children, especially, at the moment, for my beloved Miss Sunday.
There were times in my young life when I thought that motherhood would be a stifling road, one that would ruin my body and strip me of my dreams, one that would leave me haggard and old and washed up and…lost. At that egotistical time in my life, nothing scared me more than the thought of forgetting who I was and losing my “identity.”
I understand now that I had a sinful aversion to self-denial and living for others, and that I had digested the lies of my culture, hook, line and sinker…
But God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, knew so much better, and He weaved a sanctifying tale of motherhood into the story of my life, one that has changed me and challenged me and humbled me and taught me first-hand that great paradox of Christianity, that “losing ourselves” is where we are actually found, and that in dying is discovered the road to life and life abundant.
And now I have these little gifts running helter-skelter all over my house, keeping me on my feet from the minute theirs hit the floor in the morning and until their eyes close in sleep, and I am training myself daily to live for Christ by living for them…
but sometimes, like today, it hits me that it’s not all dying and losing, is it? And it’s not all exhaustion and training…
for as boisterous and energetic and sinful, even, as these little ones are, they are sunshine.
And I have seen over and over again that, when times have been especially dark and confusing, and when the outside world seems unbearably cruel and unjust, God uses my children to bring moments of happiness that transcend words and reason: a small hand on my shoulder radiates peace and comfort, a mispronounced words pops a giggle out of my mouth, an unscripted and unplanned moment of togetherness drops down like a gift of grace from the sky…
and I fall in love with God’s plan for my life over and over and over again as I heave a great sigh of contentment and see with clear vision that children are a blessing and a heritage from the Lord, and are, at times, great little ministers of peace and hope and love. Not burdens. Not exhausting little monsters. Not roadblocks to personal success or achievement…
if only we would always see them so clearly and bask in the sunshine that they bring into our homes during these precious and fleeting years.
As I finished the song, Miss Sunday asked me to sing it just one more time.
And so I did. For her and for me. She needed the extra comfort and time, and I needed to say the words – and the accompanying prayer of my heart – again and again and again…
I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all, to whom, while I minister in Christ’s name, I make a willing sacrifice of what little leisure for my own recreation my other darlings had left me. Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother’s heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, her tenderest cares, to her lifelong prayers! Oh, how rich I am, how truly, how wondrously blest!
Elizabeth Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward