Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.
The formative period for building character for eternity is in the nursery. The mother is queen of that realm and sways a scepter more potent than that of kings or priests.
I've spent over five years being pregnant. I've nursed babies off and on for over eighteen. I have no formula for determining the number of diapers, baths, diaper rashes, skinned knees and bruised feelings I have aided in my mothering career. There is no math to mother love.
I've learned how much hearing aids, pointe shoes, shin guards and casts cost. I've learned how to make two pounds of ground beef go for three meals. I've learned boxes are more fun than the toys which were packaged in them. I've learned that spotless floors and matched sets of dishes just aren't all that important to me. And I've learned that I can go without sleep...for a long time.
I've experienced the joy of seeing a child finally jump from the diving board, the thrill of hearing multiplication tables recited almost flawlessly. I've felt the ache of two diagnoses I didn't want to hear. I've heard the accolades of the kids' coaches and instructors and I've sometimes heard criticism. I've become tougher than I ever thought I could be and I cry easier than I ever did before.
Such is mother love.
I've found a renewed love for a children's Bible story book. I've found new meaning in church cradle roll songs. I've been refreshed again with simple faith, childlike faith. I've shared the gospel with my children, and they have taught me to walk it.
This is mother love.
I've looked for the best children's books, gone through monoliths of spelling lists, read educational theory and enrolled kids in schools public, private and home. I've bought crates of curriculum, cartons of crayons and cases of flash cards. And I found that character is the most important education of all.
Because when I have worked myself out of this hands-on mothering job in a few years, when the laundry is under control and the drawers in the refrigerator stay clean, it will be the character infused into the hearts of these babies that will be my legacy. I pray that beyond being great spellers, they will be men and women of integrity. I hope that whether they ever consistently learn to make their beds, they will endure in honesty. I pray that beyond the niceties and chores and handwriting and hobbies, they will be adults who traffic in powerful habits and vision. I pray they will be people of character.
Because that gift of character will be the imprint of my mother love.
Julie Lyles Carr © 2009