A Mother’s Perfect Work





She wakes up this morning that number of perfection and I don’t ask where time goes when she crawls into my bed, her nose crinkled in this giddy giggling.

She had told me yesterday, “Let’s all be the happiest today — because it’s the last day I’ll ever, ever be six.”

And I had watched her long after that. How she stacked the bowls and carried them across the kitchen and how her arms wrapped around white porcelain and I don’t know how to hold on to all these fragile things.

And I had smiled when she caught me watching her and she had grinned too and we had hung sheets out on the line and read the story of Sophie the Spider and her Masterpiece: A Spider’s Tale and she had sang it loud, “Jesus, Lamb of God, worthy is Your name” while we washed the spinach leaves and the last of the six was the happiest and I don’t think she knows how every mother has to keep being brave.

That at the first, at the beginning of everyone that ever was, there is this braving of the pain and no one tells you that this is the way it will always be now– because love is always worth the pain. Just ask any mother — love is a willingness to suffer.

Love is patient —  and patience is always this willingness to suffer.

Love is patient and patience is this willingness to suffer —  to put aside plans for a person, to lay aside self to serve, to set aside agendas to step up to an altar.

This is the work of a mother — this strange and peculiar joy in letting go of self to make the joy of another large.

And today she is all grown up, willowy and long, her and that toothy smile under a sprinkling of freckles.

“It’s finally here, Mama.” She snuggles into me early this morning, her laughing and me nodding. “Seven — I am really seven now.”

And I squeeze her hand and this letting go is the painful work that releases joy and a mother’s heart is a child’s sky.

“Perfect seven! Perfect day!” she laughs to the ceiling and I can see it — how she begins to fly and makes us soar brave.