Mothering has changed me in too many ways to count.
There are the obvious things you’d expect to hear; it shifted my priorities, made me a expert matcher-of-sippy-cups-to-lids, and blessed me with some understanding of my own parents’ love and sacrifice.
But at the end of that warm and fuzzy list, another change lurks in the shadows.
Becoming a mother has made me more sensitive to pain. Fear. Loss. It’s almost as if I’ve developed a sixth sense that’s every bit as powerful as sight. The sense of empathy for mothers and children who are hurting.
This instinctive empathy is a gift. A blessing. I know what to say when before the words wouldn’t come. I can soothe, heal, and comfort with my hands. I have the patience to sit with a woman in grief or a child who’s stuck on the monkey bars.
In another way, though, empathy can turn into pain by proxy. Now that I have children of my own I can’t hear of a tragedy and not let myself go there, to that place of imagining another mother’s pain.
The most dramatic example of this occurred in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010. My daughter was then 8 months old and I was just finding my footing as a mother of three. I cried with the women who searched the rubble for children whose hands they’d held as the ground shook. I clicked through images on my computer screen and the pain washed over me in waves.
I sat in my comfortable chair nursing my daughter as her brothers played LEGOs at my feet. I prayed for God to arrive in that place of destruction and devastation.
But in that moment I came to understand that He was already there. He’d been there all along.
He was there when the earth shook, too, when the walls buckled, when the sky grew dark with dust.
God knows this life is hard. He knows our suffering, our struggles, our fears. But He is with us in the midst of our pain.
My prayer now is not for God to arrive in places of pain, but for the hurting to open their palms and receive Him.
By Mary Lauren of My 3 Little Birds