“Hi, this is Annie’s mom…” I remember well the day that my identity was defined as a connection to my child. It was through a phone call to someone who knew Annie, but not me. My identity as a mother, though begun in a birthing room, was official with these words. Through the years and subsequent children my identity was rarely Marilyn. It was Annie’s mom or Joel’s mom or Micah’s mom or Stef’s mom and finally Jonathan’s mom.
I had only to look flirtatiously at my husband and BAM – I was pregnant. It wasn’t like the text books say with their pictures and information on eggs, fallopian tubes, and sperm. It was more like Erma Bombeck’s style of sex ed where Barbie and Ken are found in the shoe box and BAM, Little Kristy is born (or in our case, Little Annie).
Through the years, God with infinite wisdom has given me several good friends who can’t have biological children. For them Barbie and Ken in the shoe box has held sadness and much waiting. Some have chosen to adopt, and some have been unable. All of my friends have prayed Hannah’s prayer, their agony of longing placed in God’s hands as their lips move soundlessly. One or two have had “Samuels” born to them, but more often they have remained childless, hopes fading as their ovaries age.
Funny that just as society has criticized me for having “too many” kids, my friends have been criticized for having “too few”. The perfect two are society’s mandate. More and you risk not achieving success as defined by retirement funds, children’s education, and security. Less and you risk being whispered about as selfish, having a spoiled brat, and inflexible. No wonder I have bonded with these women. The criticism is too much to bear alone and though on the surface it seems we are unlikely compatriots, below the surface there is a deep connection. My friends have never begrudged my fertile womb, instead supporting me through the good and the bad, sincerely interested in my children and their lives. On my part, I have never stopped praying for them and their desires, my lips moving soundlessly on their behalf. My friends have taught me more about contentment than anyone else in my life.
I salute my friends this Mothers Day. A day marked for mothers by runny eggs and burnt toast with a card that makes it a breakfast fit for royalty. A day marked for my friends by recognition that their prayers are safe, their identity secure even as their hope is not yet fulfilled.
“But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?” Romans 8:24b
Curl up on the couch this afternoon and watch this for a humorous look at muthahood!