Her boys were just little guys and my first baby unborn when we made our Mother Covenant. At the time, my belly was swollen and there were blocks and toys scattered on the grandparents living room floor.
But it’s a day I’ll never forget: it’s the day my sister-in-law and I vowed to raise each other’s kids if anything ever happened to either of us.
It’s the necessary kind of stuff no one likes to talk about. It’s the hard part of living and most of our words and promises never happen. But we make our plans to try and control the uncontrollable. It’s all an illusion, this grasp on life and the future, but it makes us feel better about the unknown.
Years passed. More babies were born under our roof and her little boys grew. With each year, my sister-in-law and friend fought Diabetes. And even though she grew sicker, she never gave up. She never stopped singing. She never stopped laughing. She never stopped loving. She wanted to live. She wanted to raise her boys and love her husband.
But instead she passed away suddenly 5 months ago last week. The same week her sons, now 15 and 19 years old, with their big 6’5 bodies hanging off twin mattresses, slept under my roof.
I can see the toll five long months have had on these nephews. They are hungry for a mother’s love and all I can think about is the promise I made to their momma so many years ago. These boys aren’t mine; they were here for just a week and returned to their loving dad and home. I wanted them to hear the things their Mom would say to them.
But she couldn’t, so I did. For the week, they were mine.
Like most moms, I get tired of saying the same things over and over to my kids. I just want them to listen! I grow weary of the monotony of motherhood some days. But when I say the things moms do– to boys who long to hear instruction and encouragement, love and discipline from their mother–it makes every mother word sacred:
- Stop picking on your brother
- Put on more sunscreen
- Can you carry that box for me?
- How did you get so tall?
- Here, have another serving. Eat more.
- I love you
- [no words, only a quiet hug]
- Bring me the aloe vera and I’ll put it on your sunburn
- Come get your shoes
- Next time, use more sunscreen
- Yes, you can have more food
- Do you have enough money?
- Leave your brother alone
- Do you have dirty laundry?
- Did you just toot?
- Stop taking selfies on my cell phone
- Yes, I’ll read what you wrote
- I love you
- Don’t crush your cousin in the “sandwich hug”
I treated them just like my own. Instead of resisting my mothering, they were like sponges. It broke my heart and made my day. I know their momma was smiling, whole and healed from Heaven. But she is missed everyday and left a gaping whole, mother-size.
Before we took the boys to the airport, my husband and I held hands with our nephews in the kitchen and took turns praying over them and asking God to heal the broken places. We all dreamed and talked about more time together, even though a thousand miles separate us.
And then we let them go.
It was a simple reminder of how precious life is. We aren’t promised tomorrow. We must make today count.
Because it does. Count.
Motherhood is not about being a good mother or how we handle the hard moments; it’s about being what no one else can be: your child’s mother. [<---------Click to tweet]
We must look for the joy in the little things we say and do.
Because Mom? They are a big deal to our kids.