I first gave up motherhood many decades ago when raising two small girls as a single parent seemed overwhelming. It was a passing thought, said to kid myself out of a potentially bad mood.
Actually, I always liked children and told my new husband that I wanted an even dozen. God in His wisdom gave me two girls—and later I adopted a third. That was only the start of motherhood for me.
It seems I always had a houseful of boys and girls and seldom knew how many I would have for dinner. I never ran short of food at mealtime because I could always add a vegetable or whatever to the menu.
Because I worked full time, the rule in our house was I did the cooking so the girls had clean up duties. That is why my oldest daughter decided to learn how to cook. My second daughter and I were talking recently and agreed we did not care for tuna casserole because that was all her sister could make for many years. That was one of the pains of motherhood but, thankfully, she learned some cooking skills since then.
When my youngest daughter married, I thought I was alone at last, however, the good humor side of God demonstrated that I was not yet finished being a mother. I opened a day care. Suddenly, all the boys I prayed for when pregnant came to spend their days with me. Some were little tyrants; others were little angels—at least part of the time.
I remember one boy so well. I kept him for a lady who worked as a waitress at the local golf club. She usually worked late and sometimes worked on weekends. It didn’t matter because that little boy was “mine.” Many of our town’s residents thought he really was mine. His mother referred to me as his second mom.
One Sunday morning I took him to church. We sat in the front pew while the pastor gave his sermon. My little friend would not sit still and I put my hand on his to quiet him silently. Unfortunately, he took this as a cue to wiggle, squeeze, and talk. Again, I put my hand on his but this time I squeezed gently. After repeating this action several times under the watchful eyes of the pastor, my boy suddenly straightened his back, clasped his hands in his lap, and assumed the demeanor of a saint. Afterwards the pastor asked what I did to quiet him. Who me? I did nothing; after all I was a good mother. Finally I admitted that I squeezed my friend’s hand hard enough to let him know that he was five minutes away from disaster. He remains in my heart as one of the sweetest boys I have ever known.
Circumstances change and I took a job in a nearby city. Because motherhood is not something you can turn on and off, I missed the kids. In retrospect, I think God was giving me a necessary respite.
After a few years, unexpected heart surgery forced me into retirement. God is still laughing about that word as it applies to me. Why? Now I live near my youngest daughter who has two small boys and a girl on the way. Who babysits every day? I do, of course.
My oldest daughter told me not long ago that I am the busiest retired person she knows. I hope so. I know I miss the children when I am not there to play with them, even when they are behaving as typical two year olds. Actually, the oldest was trying my patience yesterday and by the time his mother came home, he had lost his privileges for the evening. So when she called me today and said I didn’t have to watch them because she didn’t have to work, I said that I was looking forward to it. Laughingly, she asked: “After yesterday? I thought you gave up motherhood for Lent?’
Behavior problems are part of a child’s growth and what makes us sharpen our motherhood skills, The best part of giving up motherhood for Lent—or any time your patience wears thin—is that God knows you won’t stick it out anymore that we stick to our diets or New Year’s resolutions. I hope I continue to give up motherhood for Lent for many additional years. Those words: “I love you, Grandma” and all the hugs and kisses make the temper tantrums unimportant.