It took me twenty-five years to grow seven children to the point that even the youngest could brush her hair and teeth, tie her shoes, and make a PB&J. Note that I said could- not would.
I’ve been re-living a great deal of the experience recently as I’ve spent the last ten weeks raising nine giant breed puppies for the first ten weeks of what I hope will be their long and lovely lives. And as I’ve been compelled to skip yet another fitness class.
The cloistered lifestyle required for such an assignment is an experience in itself. But add to it the fact that one is not secluded alone or with other like-minded adults as in a convent or a monastery, rather one is not sequestered with adults at all. One is confined with newlings and the very young.
This also is not a confinement such as the voluntary commitment for segregation one might make to an institute of higher learning or to a health and beauty spa. Instead, this is a requirement of the job of full-time at home motherhood. Of course, those dedicated mothers who work outside the home are not going off to vacation every time they leave for the office, and are likely calling home often and running straight back there to labor after finishing up on their secondary jobs.
For the past ten weeks, I have cleaned up more poop and pee than I would have ever thought possible- and of course spit-up and the occasional vomit. I’ve listened to the same soft and some silly songs over and over and over again, because they were enjoyable or calming to the little ones. (This is a technique of torture used on adults in certain situations.)
I’ve spoken in soothing tones countless hours regularly repeating myself as the youngsters behavior clearly indicated that they needed to hear these things over and over and over again. Line upon line, precept upon precept, so to speak. I’ve spoken firmly. And I’ve occasionally spoken too loudly, and in a harsh manner and felt the sting of guilt and shame, as well as a need for confession and repentance. I’ve watched in joyous gratitude as some began to do little things for themselves, and as a few began to obey simple instruction as a result.
I’ve washed the same hair- okay fur- cleaned between the same toes and washed behind the same ears, day after day after day. I’ve carefully looked after each one’s diet and need for medications. I’ve comforted the sick and bound up the injured.
And I sang along with those favored songs again and again, hugged, cuddled, petted, played, pleaded and loved more than I could have imagined possible.
Finally, last evening, after all my tremendous effort, someone arrived to take the first of my small charges to a new home. I was over-joyed! Someone new to love her- hopefully better than I ever could! Someone for her to share with- both a home and her life! I was anxious. Would she remember the things I and others had taught her? Would she wisely apply them? Would she remember my great lover for her? Would she call me when needed but would she be able to stand on her own four feet? I was sad. Would she remember me at all? Would she ever be back to visit? I was concerned. Would her new helper truly love her? Forever? Would her new helper give her all and yet refrain from spoiling her?
This morning I woke to tend my brood and counted. One was missing! Oh, Dear! Six, seven, eight… where could she be? Where was she hiding? Is she in danger? In moments, it all came back to me. And tonight someone will arrive to take the first boy…
Happy Mother’s Day simply isn’t fitting. Happy EACH AND EVERY DAY to all of you truly devoted young mothers! May God bless your smallest efforts to train aright the boys and girls who will be our future. Next to Christ and faithful fathers, you and they are certainly our hope.
Copyright 2017. Bonnie Shelton.