there’s this thing we do, we Mothers of Many Children, in the softball bleachers, the dairy aisle, the church parking lot. we perform this invisible periodic scan of the premises to ascertain that our littles are all present and upright and hopefully not slinging mudballs at the neighbor’s cadillac.
i don’t literally count kids; four is a quantity one can discern at a glance, and when a child is missing i sense the absence as starkly as if you’d punched a hole clean through me, loony-toons style. when b trekked off to an overnight school trip, for example, or when z spent half a week at summer camp, i schlepped about off-kilter, the axis of my motherhood truncated. those days were an endless loop of scan, panic, remember.
well, a curious phenomenon has developed as of late: i’ll send out my mom-feelers to probe for children and immediately register low-grade alarm at the sense that someone’s missing. i’ll scan again: bee-zee-em-elle. and then it hits me, i’m feeling the yawning absence of our youngest.
obviously, i know he’s in addis. i know we haven’t hopped the succession of planes, haven’t stood a bundle of shaking nerves before a judge, haven’t interviewed for his visa, haven’t plied him with crackers and books and in-flight entertainment and multiple trips to the bathroom just for something to do on the miles home.
and still, somehow, i scan for children and come up limping.
as bruising as it is for this mama’s heart, i’m glad for the preschooler-sized cavity, for the vining ache it grows. i’m glad it cuts me to my knees pleading his case before a Father who loves him clear through. i’m glad God is stoking a slow burn in me, an ardor steely enough to see us through years of distance and the coming days of grieving and exhaustion and hard work as we learn to be a family.
i’m glad, but oh how i want to hope that kid home.
adding to the list of thankfuls, #s 102-108
family and friends who do not leave us to pray alone indoor plumbing dr keller’s take on suffering fresh socks sturdy loaves of bread em’s ready smile yellow