I wasn’t sure if I heard it or felt it or both, but I awoke with a start at 4:30 AM. After the briefest hesitation, I rolled my bulging body out of bed and rushed to the bathroom. The waters had indeed broken. The time had come. And what better day to bring forth a first-born son? May 10, 1981. Mother’s Day.
“Great with child” doesn’t quite describe my condition. I was humongous with child. Weeks earlier, the veteran Lamaze nurse had taken one look at my petite frame with its ridiculously swollen belly and assumed I was having twins. When I told her the doctor assured me there was only one, she raised an eyebrow, unconvinced. But the doctor was right. I wasn’t having twins. After laboring all day, at 9:00 PM fetal distress prompted an emergency c-section, and suddenly everything made sense.
“Someone get this kid a hamburger and fries,” the doctor quipped, as our 10 lb, 4 oz. son wailed his hello to the world and a Happy First-Ever Mother’s Day to me.
Thus my adventure of motherhood began, and I was in awe of the gift. An eternal soul, entrusted to two so young who — like all parents before us — would have to learn this sacred stewardship on the job. And who were we to be honored with such a calling? My comfort lay in the assurance that God wouldn’t have given us this child unless He intended to equip us for the task, and with joyful expectation, I bundled my very bouncy baby home.
We soon discovered that this newborn chunk of masculine humanity had a will to match his size. I remember when he was only a few weeks old, the subdued dread I felt watching his bassinet rock back and forth with the force of his tiny fury. When he got a little older and I took him to parties or events, I couldn’t understand why other babies sat in their carriers, cooing at their moms while mine squawked to be held or fed or diapered on demand.
If I had to describe Jacob’s personality with one word, it would be intense. And that never changed. His sister and then his brother came along, both weighing in at around 7 1/2 pounds, both the contented, cooing sorts, but this first-born remained larger than life, pushing his limits, testing his boundaries, putting us through a non-stop, head-on crash course in how to parent a titanium-willed mini tyrant.
More than anything he kept me on my knees. I had to believe God had a reason (or a multitude of reasons) for this child’s ferocity, and I prayed that his passion would be turned toward the things of Christ. Much to my great joy and relief, when Jacob was a young teen, I saw God’s hand on his life, watched him own his faith, and wondered with delight what he would become. He was brilliant and gifted and daring. A natural leader. What couldn’t God accomplish in and through him?
Then, almost two weeks after his fifteenth birthday, the waters broke again, and with them my hopes, my dreams, and my heart.
There’s a saying that to become a mother is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. Much of the time, that means her heart’s delights are multiplied a thousandfold, but it also means when her children suffer, her pain is likewise multiplied.
May is a momentous month in my motherhood adventure, and this one is also a milestone. The Lord gave us fifteen years with Jacob before the waters broke the second time, and this May marks fifteen years of watching Him create beauty in the ripples. I suppose I could be self-indulgently sentimental about that, but one of the most important lessons Jacob teaches me is to embrace every moment for its own worth. Today is the gift, and I receive it with deep gratitude.
“Today is the greatest day, and I am in it.” Jacob wrote those words and taped them above his bedroom door shortly before his baptism by fire, and he lives them now. That intense passion he displayed from the womb has been refined to a flaming brightness, arising from and pointing to one Source. I see him, so reduced in the externals, but so in love with the One who created him for his own pleasure and glory, and I return to a question once thought lost forever. What can’t God accomplish in and through him? He who took five small loaves of bread, gave thanks, broke them, and fed multitudes. There are no limits to what He can do with small, broken things placed in His hands.
We never know all that God is doing, but we can always trust that He is at work, bringing to pass plans formed long ago with perfect faithfulness. His ways always higher. His values upside down from ours. The least are the greatest, and I find myself back at square one. Who are we to be honored with such a calling? My comfort still lies in the assurance that God wouldn’t have given us this man-child unless He intended to equip us for the task.
Tomorrow my first-born turns thirty. Happy Birthday, dear Jacob. And Happiest Mother’s Day to me.
I’m still in awe of the gift.
Giving thanks in community for:
#94 Jacob’s life in two glorious fifteens
#95 awaiting Naomi’s soon arrival with joyful anticipation, Luke’s and Sarah’s plunge into the adventure
#96 the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead, Who also gives life to our mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in us (Romans 8:11)
#97 blue for the sky, and the color green
#98 the Word of God going forth in a quiet dining room evening after evening and not returning empty
To join the chorus of thanksgiving, visit Ann Voskamp’s site.