One day last week, David’s tummy was hurting on and off for hours. GI pain is a common with his syndrome and he struggles with it daily. I worked through our list of remedies to soothe his pain and comfort his soul. I gave him Advil, held him, rubbed and patted his back and had him soak in a warm bath. Nothing worked, he continued to arch and scream. What began with confidence ended with discouragement. We reached the end of the list and the end of my energy, and I began to pray harder, “Lord help him, Lord help me.” There seemed to be no answers, no solution and we were both exhausted. We laid down together and cried. Finally, he drifted off to sleep and I got up and made myself a cup of coffee. As a mother, I’d been there before—the excruciating place of feeling helpless. In that moment I couldn’t feel it, but as we walk this journey together, the outpouring of love, pain of emptiness and beauty of grace have come together to form a deep bond between us. Somehow, the struggle strengthens the bond. Our souls are connected.
I’ve experienced this with both of my boys. Each one has their own needs and their own way of communicating. Each one, in some inexplainable way, has my whole heart. When I became a mother, my heart opened itself in a new way. The depth of love I felt for this new, tiny person, entrusted to my care was overwhelming and amazing and terrifying. The caring, listening, nurturing, feeding, worrying, comforting and constant guesswork of loving my child was and continues to be the most humbling and important work I do. Where I’ve found myself empty, I’ve also experienced the miracle of being renewed and beginning again. To my relief, there are new mercies every morning.
Motherhood has no clear boundaries or end, it flows into every part of my life. My heart is always with my children, even when we are physically apart. I can’t help it, I want to give them my time, compassion and love. A whole heart, devoted to another is a beautiful, imperfect thing. The sacred sacrifice of motherhood is a high and humble calling. Pouring myself out means sometimes I will be empty, but in that place deep bonds are formed. It’s much more difficult and much more beautiful than I expected. I am so much better for it.
Have you experienced the beauty of emptiness as a mother or caregiver?