In honor of all those who have loved a child or loved a mother... May your Mother's Day be beautiful.

This piece is actually a slight revision of one I drew a full decade before I had children. In fact, I hadn't even met my husband yet! Part of my Christmas series, the mother in the original drawing is Mary, and in her arms she holds the infant Jesus. I realized later that by erasing the heavenly halo, this drawing seemed as accurate a portrayal of any mother with her newborn child.

Of course, as a mother now and having just borne our third child a mere week ago, I feel like I can interpret this one with so much more clarity. Oh, the awe, the reverence, the wonder. She is utterly captivated by this tiny, precious being she cradles in her arms. "How is it possible that this was inside my own body? Look how small, how helpless she is! What kind of mother will I be? What kind of child will she become? Wow, she's so much quieter when she's asleep!"

mother and childMaybe the mother also feels protective, recognizing the often-scary world into which her child has been born. Maybe she's terribly fearful, feeling like she has no clue what she's doing or that she might not have the support she needs to be a parent.

Becoming a mother has changed me in so many ways. In my love for my children, I'm challenged daily (even hourly) to give up what I wanted my day to be like and, instead, to give and give and give to my girls so that they can be strong and well nourished – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This self-sacrifice is immeasurably difficult, and many days I fail at it, but it has grown me and continues to grow me in ways I could never have achieved on my own.

That said, considering how many days I get the opportunity to practice sacrificial love, you'd think I'd be better at it by now. Unfortunately, that's not the case. I'm still selfish, irritable, and easily frustrated more days than not. But I do find inspiration and encouragement toward this sort of maternal and sacrificial love from a few passages in the Bible.

One passage in particular is from the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, often called "the Love Chapter." Verse 7 says, "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." A parent who loves a child knows this kind of love. I've witnessed both mothers and fathers demonstrate a love beyond any logic or reason, particularly when a situation with a child seemed terribly hopeless and utterly un-endurable. Love fills that parent with strength to persevere. It's astounding.

The mother of the tiny baby will likely see many of these sorts of challenges. Her love will be tested, and in this way it will be cultivated. Her love will grow in its capacity, in its ability, in its depth. A great challenge indeed.

But...is this perhaps why we become parents? Without these challenges, we might remain in a static posture, with a rather limited view toward life. Yes, parenthood is one of those strange gifts, where you couldn't see what the gift was until many years later.

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