They wake me up too early. With sighs and wrinkled eyes, and I shuffle towards the coffee pot like an old lady. I wonder, “Why, oh why, are there so many of them, and why must they be so loud?”
They need me. But it will not always be this way.
They are like mosquitoes, loud squawking mosquitoes, attacking and fighting for the very life blood of their mommy-host. I flail and kick them away as I stagger to the coffee pot. I entice with cartoons and beg for a little bit of quiet, a little bit of space so I can ingest the caffeine and the grace I need for the day. Every Sunday in church I stand with my church family and confess that “I am by nature sinful and unclean.” What I confess with my mouth I experience in my heart each morning, when they wake me up before I am rested.
Oh, how they need me. But it will not always be this way.
I can’t imagine life in the next season, when I am not constantly needed. Doesn’t being needed define the very essence of motherhood? It feels that way. The constant demands, the constant needs that are presented me through my six children, these determine the course of my days.
Their needs often drain me like a parasite drains a host. Does parasite seem too strong a word? Yes, I see the way that one smiles so sweet, the sparkle in that one’s eyes that looks like daddy’s, the soft sweet kissable fat rolls on the baby. They are cute parasites, and I am sure none so cute have ever existed in this history of the world.
But they need me, down to my life-blood. But it will not always be so.
Even as I struggle under the weight of their needs, I know part of me likes to be needed. My need to be useful, to feel like I am doing something important, fits well with their needs to be cared-for, especially when they are tiny.
Someday, I will not be needed. That day is far off, I think. I am in my thirties, and I still need my mother, though I need her much differently than I needed her as a child. I need her as a friend, as an advice-giver, as a grandmother. As long as she lives, I will need her. And when she is gone, and I yet live, the need for her will ache tremendously.
I learn from her. I am to be needed in different ways in each season. It is happening already. I learned to give birth and breastmilk, and then, their needs changed. I learned to cut grapes and fill sippy cups, but now, those skills are outdated. These same children present me with ever-changing needs, and the duties of love must change with the seasons.
May what I have to give change with their changing needs, I pray, when I’d rather give snuggles than pitch baseballs. And it will, it can, in Christ. I could not force breastmilk to flow, and I cannot force my heart to change, but God gives growth.
And where are we growing? How does this end?
I am needed by my children, but it will not always be this way.
Bear with me as I imagine. Someday, when all things are new, my children will not need me ,and I will not need to be needed by them. We will not seek in each other that which only God can give. Christ will be all in all, and we will be filled. My own dear children who pester me constantly will be filled, they will be content and truly satisfied, when Jesus brings them home to Him. I will learn to love my own mother (and all people!) without the constant pull of my own selfish heart getting in the way, my drive to suck from her what she cannot give, was not made to give.
I will be a mother, loved, but not needed in that parasitic way. I will be the one whom God used to give them life, an agent in the wonderful work He started and completed, a fellow child of God who rejoices with my children in His finished work, in each one of them (please, God!) and in me. I will be loved, fulfilled, and rejoicing, and I will not be needed. I will not be drained. I will be loved, and filled. I will be loved, not used, and they will be loved. Together we will be satisfied, healthy, whole, when we see Him face to face.
Now, is the season for serving and giving and feeling drained. Now, my love is tainted with selfishness, and my body grows weary.
But this is only a season.
We shall be filled.
But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. (Philippains 2:17-18)
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Cor 15:20-28)