"Just a few more minutes, honey, and we'll be done. I need you to be quiet."
She switched positions once again, the movement giving her something to do. Then out of nowhere, she whispered, "Why did you want to be a mama?"
Most things that come out of her mouth prove to us her mind is far beyond her years, but this one I was not ready for.
What kind of answer is there?
I thought about my life as a mama. I thought of the laundry, the endless dishes, the sibling squabbles, the broken cups, the messy rooms, the constant noise. I thought about the number of times I have to say, "You're being far too loud" and " No, I can't do that for you right now. You'll have to wait." I remembered earlier that morning, over and over again saying, "You need to do your schoolwork and then you can play."
Was all this why I wanted to be a mama? Was this the reason on that February evening my freshman year of college I chose life for myself in order to hold onto the hope of a family?
No. Dishes and cleaning and laundry and refereeing were certainly not why I wanted to be a mama. They are part of the job, for sure. But they are the what, not the why.
I guess I wanted to be a mama because I wanted someone to love. I had so much love to give and nowhere to give it. I wanted an outlet for the intensity of emotion I felt within.
More than that, though, I wanted to be a mama because I longed for a child to know they were loved, that they were delighted in. I wanted them to be seen for who God made them and for them to know that in seeing the real them, they were cherished.
And it's not just why DID I want to be a mama but also, why DO I want to be a mama? I don't want the desire to be past tense, but past, present, and future.
I want to be a mama so that my kids know that even in this harsh world that will be filled with hurt, sadness, brokenness, and sin that they have someone who sees them, delights in them, cherishes them. I want them to know that facets of God's character shine from within them and it is their joy and privilege to let that reflection shine bright.
I want to be a mama so my kids know there is always someone who is for them, who believes in them, who sees their eternal worth and significance.
I want to be a mama in order to see up close the beauty of God's image bearers displaying to the world the glory of God.
I want to be a mama because I want to be part of God's great work. And these kids, they are God's great work. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10).
I want to be a mama so that I can see the incredible transformation as God molds these children and shapes them into who He created them to be. He graciously has allowed me to play a part in that transformation and I want to do it with my whole heart.
My children's young minds can't yet grasp the seemingly abstract notion of a God who loves them eternally and completely, a God who sees their infinite worth, a God who delights in them and cherishes them with a life-giving, sacrificial love, and so I want to be a mama in order to stand in for God with something tangible that my kids can see, hear, and touch. I want to be a mama so I can stand in the gap and I can say to them as Paul said to the Corinthians, "Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ." (1 Corinthians 11:1).
I don't do it perfectly. Not even close. But I can't stop because of my lack of perfection. I have to have faith that as I stand in the physical gap for God, He will stand in the gap for me. I am broken, but He is perfect. "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us." (2 Corinthians 4:7)
God will do the work in my children's hearts, minds, and lives, but He allows me to be a part of it. He will take this broken vessel and shine HIs light through it.
And so today, as I do the what of motherhood — the dishes, laundry, and refereeing — I want to remember the why.