The room was quiet except for the sound of the fan whirring. The blinds were closed, but still a little bit of the midday sun peeked through. I sat rocking Isaac as he nursed. It was nap time and we had read a book and I had sung him our songs. He was quiet, I was quiet. Just mother and son embraced by the moment. A moment – as I learned the first time he was placed on my chest exactly one year before – that would fly all too quickly past. Just like the whirring of the fan. There and gone.
I reached down and traced his cheek with my finger then whispered “love you” into the silence of the room. I didn’t expect him to respond. As with so much of the first year of parenthood, everything I did was without expectation of a response. I am his mother, I would think. And this is what mothers do. No strings attached.
But then Isaac stopped nursing and his eyes met mine. “Love you,” he said, clear as a bell. Then promptly returned to nursing, just as if nothing unusual had happened. My eyes filled with tears. Although I was his mother, no strings attached, all the sleepless nights, all the midnight rocking-pacing, all the diaper changes and marathon nursing sessions, all the “am I doing anything right?” wonderings, everything suddenly fell into place.
When my heart is to pour myself out for someone else – not in expectation of a response – but so that when the response does come, my heart is open and ready to receive it, nothing is in vain. I am meant to receive every bit of the response when it comes, to feel it completely. It’s in the holding back that I am lost, not in the pouring out.
What is it that Jesus said? Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. So it is with motherhood.