The Best Lemon

“She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family. . .” – Prov. 31:15

One of the most important characteristics of a mother – a good, Christian mother – is that she must be selfless.  For some, that may be easy.  But I think that for many of us, that seems like a goal that just will never be achieved!  Don’t get me wrong.  As mothers, we are forced to be selfless – after all, somebody has to get up with the kids, feed them, change their dirty diapers, etc.  But I have to admit that my attitude is not always selfless.  Sure, I may fix the kids breakfast, but I can’t guarantee a smile or a song on my lips while I’m doing it.  The actions are there, but my heart is just not in it.  Sometimes I feel as sour as a lemon actually!

I was reminded of my need to embrace selflessness yesterday – my birthday.  Anyone who knows me knows that my birthday is one of my favorite days of the year.  I am a middle child who has always felt the need for attention, and my birthday is the one day a year that I can be guaranteed to get some of it.  But now I am a mom, and that translates into a whole different kind of birthday!  Gone are the days of sleeping in, lounging around on my birthday, watching whatever I want.  Instead, Jamie had to be at work early, so I rolled out of bed early with my kids, who were very excited that it was Mommy’s birthday.  (Well, Hannah was, at least.  Ephraim is just generally excited whenever Hannah is!)

Anyway, I had a good attitude making breakfast for my two little munchkins.  Hannah prayed that Mommy would have a good birthday.  We had a good breakfast, and I went to finish getting ready.  That’s when disaster struck.  We can no longer allow Ephraim in the living room without an adult, so I put the gate down to keep him in the back of the house with me.  Hannah was watching t.v. and decided to climb over the gate to find us.  The next thing I know, Hannah is screaming, and blood is streaming down her leg.  Hannah tends to be overly dramatic about her injuries and started kicking me and hitting me when I tried to clean her up.  (She’s okay, by the way.  She had simply re-opened an old wound in climbing over the gate.)

Meanwhile, Ephraim had discovered a way to get on top of his dresser and had found his lotion.  Next time I saw him, he was covered head-to-toe in lotion, and the carpet was covered with the rest!  After cleaning Hannah’s wound, I had to re-dress Ephraim and wash out his hair.  And I was still not dressed myself!

Hannah decided she was mad at me for cleaning her wound, so she told me she was going to pretend it wasn’t my birthday and set out to be grumpy for the rest of the day.  Sigh!

But being a mom means that even my birthday is not about me.  It means that if the kids are sick or hurt or just plain old grumpy, then I need to set aside my own wants and needs and take care of them instead.  Being a mom means that I daily have to die to self and love my children – even if they are being unlovable (because, let’s be honest, all of us have days when we are unlovable).

I love being a mom.  It is the absolute BEST job in the world!  And it is also the most humbling job in the world.  My children daily remind me of my own sinful nature.  They remind me that nothing I do can ever be good enough to get me into heaven.  And they remind me that I am in need of a Savior, One who never struggles with dying to self because He loves me unconditionally.  He never snaps at me, never gets annoyed with me, never locks Himself in the bathroom to get just a few minutes alone.  He is the perfect Parent!

But somehow, it is all worth it – the struggles, the trials, the grumpiness – when Hannah hands me a card that says, “Mommy, you are the best mommy in the whole wide world.”

Despite the chaos I experienced with my children on my birthday, it was still an absolutely wonderful day.  I may struggle to die to self daily, but my kids are worth it.  I remember the birthdays before I had a husband and children, and all I ever wished for was to some day have a family of my own.  They may force me to die to self, but they also love me unconditionally – even when they are having a grumpy day.

Being selfless may seem difficult until you read the next line in your birthday card that was dictated by your four-year-old, “Mommy, you are the best lemon in the whole wide world!  Hee hee!”

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” – Prov. 31:28

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