After Stephen’s birthday party yesterday, my mom sent me some pictures of the day and I noticed this one. Not because it is unusual, but because it is so typical. Birthday kid with birthday cake … presented to him by nameless hands. I have dozens of these. And the hands are always mine.
I used to wonder at the way some mothers seemed content to give themselves completely over to the lifelong service of others. My own mother especially. Maternal generosity amazed me and I didn’t suppose I could ever forget my selfish self long enough to accomplish such a thing.
But then God made me a mother.
While I have not become perfectly selfless, the preciousness of my own children in my own eyes has made me realize that it’s not half so bad to play a supporting role. To be the giver. The organizer. The behind the scenes, unseen, and un-recognized do-er and supporter.
I am still not naturally selfless and I am still not as generous as I ought to be. But I do relish a quiet role these days. Most days I am content to do nothing more but watch the people — the real, autonomous, and fascinating people — each of my children is becoming. I don’t expect any non-mother to understand it, but I am happy to be the unnamed source of the full bellies and clean laundry that support them along their way. I am pleased to be the hands that support them, on their birthdays and every day. It’s a privileged process.