I love this story about a baby bird that hatches from its egg while its mother is away finding food. Greeted by an empty nest, the hatchling has no idea where his mother is or what she looks like. He consequently sets about searching for her. When he asks various animals in turn, “Are you my mother?,” he repeatedly receives a negative answer. In the end, the little bird is catapulted back into his nest by a power shovel, just in time for his mother’s return to the nest. Unfortunately, real life does not always match P.D. Eastman’s plot line!
As a mother of five children born over the course of just under nine and a half years, I was thrilled with my little brood. Had I wanted to have more children, I could have continued that process. Although I desired to be their mother and wanted each of my own children, I was patently unprepared to parent all their friends and the friends’ friends. After all, I was not THEIR mother!
However, God used one event to completely transform my attitude. During my fifth pregnancy, a pleasant little boy lived next door us; apparently he preferred our house to his own, most likely due to the availability of multiple playmates. As the months of my pregnancy wore on, I was lumbering around the house like a beached whale and often needed to lie down for a few minutes during the afternoon. This neighbor boy would walk home from school every day with our oldest son, run next door to drop his backpack at home, and return to our house until dinner time. Sometimes he would stay for dinner as well. He was well-behaved and polite, but, as a responsible adult, I did not think it wise to be asleep while other people’s children were in the house. One particular day, I was exhausted and desperate for a quick nap; when my eldest son came through the door after school and made a beeline upstairs, I instructed our second child to please inform the neighbor (when he knocked on the door, which he surely would in a few moments) that I simply could not have him play at our home that afternoon. A few moments later, I was lying down when the doorbell rang. Through the fog of half-sleep, I heard child number two run to the door and open it; not one to mince words, he declared, “Go home! My mom doesn’t want you here!” and proceeded to shut the door. My heart was filled with remorse at his choice of words. Nonetheless, as I explained to my son that diplomacy was important, I was also grumbling silently to God that I would’ve birthed a pile of nine-year-olds myself, had I wanted a pile of nine-year-olds. The Holy Spirit wasted no time in correcting my attitude: He spoke distinctly to my heart at that moment and instructed me to get up off my bed when that neighbor rang the doorbell the next day, smile at him, welcome him, and receive him as if he were my own.
From that day on, I did exactly that. In fact, that little boy was the first of numerous “sixth” children in our family. To this day, I treasure fond memories of him (he is now 35!). Moreover, nine months after that particular day when the Lord so clearly reprimanded me for my attitude, that little boy’s mother died unexpectedly of a pulmonary embolism. Can you imagine the guilt that would have shrouded me, had I not received this child and made him feel welcome after school in our home?
I may NOT be someone’s mother from a physical point of view, but God calls me to be available like a mother whenever He sends me someone He has called to be a part of my life. Everyone needs to be welcomed, included, listened to, and loved. My sixth children have truly blessed me in ways that words fail to describe — and I consider myself the richer for the experience! “Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation!” (Psalm 68:19, NKJV)