It was one of those hard-won nap days, and I was doing the #naptimehustle when the unthinkable happened. Apparently this particular FedEx man was not aware that 1:00 to 3:00pm is prime-quiet-time around these parts. I wanted to yank open the door and holler for the man in the uniform to watch his back if he disrupts this revered sleeptime again. Because it’s not just the sound of the bell, it’s the eight noisy legs attached to curious-bodied canines that follow the chime, racing to see who needs to be greeted.
I didn’t yell though, because what would Jesus do.
Instead, I held my breath and quietly peeked in on Miss Light Sleeper who was, surprisingly, still dreaming. I guess the FedEx Man caught a break this time. I suddenly remembered the surprise waiting for me. You will know you’re a grown-up when a delivery incites the same eager, expectant feeling as when your fourth-grade self was checked out of school early.
One glance at this taped-up box told me it was my anniversary present. I knew because I had picked it out. Some call this “controlling;” I call it helpful. And this time in particular I called it a cozy new North Face jacket for the approaching cooler weather.
Seconds after waking, my daughter claimed stake on my jacket with the tags still attached. It swallowed her whole but did not slow her down. A tiny queen in her elaborate robe, she shuffled all over the house, beaming as her little bare feet brushed the hem of the jacket making its edges dance as she ran. My straight out-of-the-box jacket was now nothing more than an overpriced broom. My pre-baby self would have cringed at this travesty. But now? I just watch. Smile, even.
It happens often that way; my joy is found in hers.
That jacket no doubt falls at the bottom of the extensive list of things I have gladly handed over to this one who calls me Mama. I am fully convinced that we as moms are the Ultimate Sharers of this world.
Some of our offerings hold a sacred gravity, starting with our own bodies. Without this transcendent sacrifice, there would be no new life. Even had I not carried my daughter her first forty weeks of life – since that is not always how we become mothers – I’ve surely carried her every day since. In my arms, yes, but even more so in my being. I share them both with her. I am never without her.
The Giving List is relentless and many times ridiculous: Sharers of Sleeptime Hours and Pillowspace. Sharers of Hot Meals and All Chocolate and Sweets. Sharers of Bathwater and Showers. Sharers of Shirt Hems for Wiping Noses. Sharers of the Remote Control. Sharers of Smooth Skin, in exchange for smile lines and stretch marks. Sharers of Free Time. Sharers of Giggles and Tears. Sharers of Germs. Sharers of Space (of the home, car, and personal variety). In short? Sharers of Every Thing. Be it joyfully or reluctantly.
You would think that all of the giving would chip away at us, making us feel worn and tired. Weak. And maybe sometimes it does feel that way, but then we find, sweetly, that our hearts have never felt more whole. It’s not just a giving away. It’s a constant rhythm of sending out and receiving back. It’s an investment that doesn’t return void.
I’m learning the gift really is in the giving.
And more than that, my true takeaway? It’s her. It is her.
Anything I’ve ever sacrificed in the name of this radical, illogical, immeasurable motherly love does not just evaporate after the exchange, remaining only as a memory – it becomes who she is. We may hand over a new jacket fresh off the FedEx truck, but what she actually receives is my love.
So we continue, as Sharers Extraordinaire, our hearts as our ultimate offering. That is where the flame of sacrifice begins, steadily spreading until it engulfs us entirely. As this blessed fire consumes you, refines you, and manifests your extravagant and exquisite mother-love, let it. Watch. Smile, even.
You’re trading Ashes for Beauty, so don’t be afraid to give. Even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts.
My name is Shanna Leigh. I’m a wife, writer/blogger, Registered Sonographer, and a first-time mom to a spirited almost two-year-old. Cheering on fellow moms is my favorite, followed closely by McDonald’s sweet tea with lemon. I want moms to see glimpses of Glory in their everyday motherhood, and I want them to know how crazy-amazing they are. I write about all of those things over at my blog, Beloved Nest. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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