Her hands wrap around my calves as she pushes her head past my knees, peeking out in play as I pour my morning coffee.
It’s 5:30 a.m., and she surrounds me with obligations I feel I can’t uphold. The weight of motherhood is in my mouth, my eyes, my shoulders.
How can I drink my coffee AND play with you AND feed your two sisters?! I think to myself as I scoop her up and place her on a chair next to me. I’m just so tired.
I take a sip of coffee and my lips tingle from the heat…
But that’s what motherhood is, right? It’s a slow caffeine drip, straining through a porous IV. I’m never fully recharged or ready for the demands of the day because my demands never go away…
But that’s why I come to you, God.
Can you fill up my cup?
Can you give me mercy and grace when when I’d rather roll back inside my sheets than face the children you’ve given me?
What about kindness? Can you extend kindness to me, even when I’ve turned my back on you with impatience or indifference?
Of course I can.
And why would you do that? I don’t deserve it. I’m not always a good child to you, let alone a good mother.
Because I love you and you’re mine.
The weight of this sinks down into my belly, past my hunger and exhaustion, into the emptiness of my morning. I so desperately need him, and that’s exactly where he is…at the end of myself.
His love will fuel me, I think. Not the coffee I’m drinking, or the eggs I’m about to make. Just him.
For a moment I feel embarrassed for having known this all along but allowing it to become secondary.
That’s ok, I feel him say. Today is a new day, and today you get it.
Tears slowly stumble down my cheeks, welcoming this spiritual understanding.
I place my steady hand on my child’s head and smooth back her hair slowly. She’s playing quietly with a toy so I take a moment to look out the window and notice that the sun is rising. Rays of light in shades of grapefruit and lavender envelop me quietly.
“Thank you,” I say out loud to him, blinking back more tears. And then my daughter tugs at my shirt, and the moment is over.
“Yes, honey?” I say to her, still looking at the sunrise.
She tugs on my shirt again. I look down and our eyes connect. She motions hand-to-mouth. “You want to eat?” I ask. She nods with a smile.
This gesture is basic, but in that moment it connects me to her in such a tangible way: It helps me realize how much she needs me–how much she trusts me–and my heart bursts forth with so much love it’s indescribable.
This is how I love you! he tells me. You didn’t do anything to earn it … my love just IS.
And that’s when I realize: I love my children because they’re mine, not because they love me back.
I smile. Because that’s how he loves me, too…
I get up from the table with a newfound sense of victory over the duties that lay before me. I now know that I can carry them out today with intentionality and love…because HIS love is enough.
True love is like that, ya know. It transcends all things–even exhaustion in motherhood.