Close to three months after giving birth to my youngest, I am sooo feeling the difference of being a mother of three.
When it was just baby number 1, I was in my first year of residency (with grueling 34-hour duty schedules), and it was all about feeling too exhausted to be a mother whenever I was home. When number 2 came around, it was about caring for a colicky baby (textbook definition) while making sure number 1 was at par with age-appropriate speech and vocabulary milestones. Hubby and I somehow managed to wing it, making sure that if one of us was with one child, the other one would be with the other. No one’s left out, everyone’s happy. With 2 endearing kids, we thought having the 3rd one would be a breeze.
Of course, we had no idea.
Between breastfeeding little number 3 on demand, and handling 2 older kids who suddenly became extra clingy upon the baby’s arrival (with, “Mama, I want you here with me!” and number 2 rushing over to me whenever she hears the baby cry, wanting me to carry her instead of nursing the baby), 24 hours never seems enough in a day. Before I got sick a month ago, my eldest was the first one to catch the stomach flu. And the night he got sick, next to my example of sacrificial love, was a moment I really felt helplessly disconcerted–my eldest in a daze, covered in his own vomit, my youngest baby crying, demanding to be fed, and my toddler, throwing a fit, not understanding why I had to help her brother wash up nor that I was her baby sister’s sole source of nourishment; all she knew was that she wanted me, and wanted me now.
Don’t get me wrong: I love my kids, with all the love I can give them. I swell up with pride whenever my 5-year-old adds yet another word to his vocabulary, or impresses me with his reading prowess. I practically melt each time my cute little toddler smiles (or does any other facial expression) on demand, and whenever she lovingly kisses her baby sister. And during the extraordinarily sleepless nights of the first few months, I get reenergized with my baby’s easy smiles and cooing conversations.
But any mother out there will agree that there are just days when things get overwhelmingly, well, overwhelming.
In one of my few “alone” times (which has become synonymous to bathroom time), I was reading Scott and Kimberly Hahn’s Rome Sweet Home, the story of a Protestant pastor and his wife’s journey to Catholicism. I came across a part where Kimberly had just given birth to her 3rd child, and, probably like me, was feeling overwhelmed with motherhood. A friend suggested she pray to Mary, as she was sure to understand where Kimberly was coming from, having been a mother herself here on earth. Kimberly remarked that the comparison was far from being similar: Mary was mother to one, and to the Son of God at that. But her friend very wisely posited that as Mother to all of mankind, she surely would have had a lot of experience with stubborn, difficult children.
Through the many times I have felt Mary’s presence in my life, I have come to really regard her as my Heavenly Mother. I feel her share in the Master’s joy when I give myself in service, leading worship and proclaiming God’s Word. I can almost hear her cheer me on, encouraging me to trust and hold on to God’s promises whenever I get winded by whatever curve balls life throws at me. Her embrace is sweet, sudden, and smothering; whenever I decide to sing a song to her, it’s almost as if she rushes down from heaven and promptly takes the best seat in the house so that she can hear every note. And just as I have the habit of checking on my babies when they’re asleep, partly to watch them slumber, and partly to make sure they’re still breathing (I blame the hype over SIDS), I know she is constantly checking up on me, making sure that I’m still following and loving her Son.
I love her. It is a love that comes naturally and unreservedly, because loving her has always, will always, bring me closer to her Son.