At least once a day, I pause. I stand beside a lightly snoring baby or a sprawled little toddler and I wait.
I am looking for the rise and fall of a little chest.
Sometimes I put my cheek close enough to a tiny mouth to feel the warm breath. I rest my hand on a tiny back. I wonder at the breath in a tiny body.
Two years into motherhood, the miracle still moves me day after day. And I get the feeling that when they are very old, if I have opportunity, I will stand and wait and marvel again.
It's in those moments that I fight the tendency to call them mine. How could someone I love so much, who depends upon me so wholly, be so utterly out of my hands in a deep sense. Doesn't it go without saying that one of my almost unspeakable fears is that the rise and fall cease? That what is completely out of my control happens, and I come face to face with the reality that they really are not mine? My pause can so easily be shattered by fear. And a sweet moment becomes a moment gripped by what-if, a temptation to close my hand and pretend I am in control.
But I know that open hands are better.
I love this gift of mothering them. I treasure the moments in my heart. I give thanks for the grace of them, knowing I don't deserve this joy. I hope I do stand over them when they have children of their own and watch the rise and fall of that miraculous breath. But I hope I learn more and more to stand in trust with an open heart and hand.
God gives breath. Our times are in his hands. The rise and fall is his miracle, not mine.
For me, mothering continues to be a journey into deeper faith, more relinquished trust, humbler hope. Sweet gifts beget sweet gifts.
the rise and fall
of kingdoms and men
are bound in the breath
of a baby bed