How Babies Make You Forget, and Remember

budding branch There was a time when I didn't think I wanted kids.  I had decided that other people could give birth and populate the earth, I was just-fine-thank-you and didn't really need to experience that whole labor thing.

I'd raise horses. Or dogs.

Of course, I was ten years old and had just witnessed the birth of my sister. I don't really know what  my mom was thinking and maybe she never hoped to have grandkids, but it was a bit much for me to grasp.

I still don't understand why people describe child-birth with words like 'beautiful' or 'exhilarating'. Messy, painful, shameless and loud seem more appropriate.

Yes, a new baby is amazing.

Yes, bringing life into the world is a God-honored gift.

Yes, most near death experiences draw us closer to God, but the whole thing was enough to make me relish the idea of a childless adulthood.

But like I said, I was ten.

Shortly after I turned twenty I was married, and a year or so later I was working at a child-care center. With the babies and toddlers.

And I can't tell you, probably don't need to tell you, what little-girls-named-Lauren who say "peach-es" and little-boys-named-Logan who wear Baby Gap, do to a young newlywed.

Can't even describe it.

Nevermind the contagious biting or the tantrum epidemic. Forget about the flying toys and flinging raviolis. I. was. smitten. And no amount of birth-related-horror-stories could dissuade me.

I had to have one. Then two. Then three in three years. My dad threatened to buy us a television.

baby Luke's feet


Shelby holding Luke

And they say that a mother forgets all the pain of labor as soon as she sees that newborn baby. I've forgotten a lot of things, but not the pain of childbirth.

But bringing home a newborn, being exempt from all other cares of the world, and being someone's mother, those are moments worth pain and tearing and breaking.

Those are heaven-filled moments, and I get it now.

I am a step-mom, an adoptive mom, a frazzled, short-tempered and scatter-brained mom. I am mom with four m's and six o's. With kids who now look down at her. Mom who reminds and who laughs and who messes up daily, in plain view of the ones she wants to be perfect for.

I pray warrior-prayers for my children.

And I am cynical about the pain and labor of child birth but Jesus, He bore us with the greatest of agony. With all the blood and tearing and heart-wrenching abandonment. Alone. And the pain of rejection from us whom He bore, all of us standing there mocking.

And we call that wonderful. Beautiful. Redemptive.

I was offended a couple of weeks ago by a picture of a cross made of guns. Offended, because my Savior was hanging on this crude cross made of gun metal and I thought that somehow that was irreverent. Less holy than a wooden cross. Yeah.

On so many levels, that picture means more to me now. I can  barely wrap words around it.

A cross is not beautiful, not fashionable jewelry even when it's made of precious metals. It's a method of death. Of ugly, torturous, agonizing, slow death. The beauty and the victory isn't in the method, it's in the Life that overpowered death and gave us life.

And so with child-birth. Every near death experience brings us closer to Life, one way or another. I'm steeping in this thought still and trying to word it just right, but the bottom line is this: the most beautiful things can come by terrible, horrible, ugly means.

Now I hold the baby born of that sister who I watched-into-the-world 27 years ago. And oh, the glow of motherhood looks good on her.

Linking up with Emily at Imperfect Prose, Tell Your Story, and Crystal at Thriving Thursdays