On Mondays at lunch, we fast and pray that men would walk uprightly with God, that women’s hearts would be softened, and that God would grant marriages to those who long for them.
“May I have some lip gloss?” my 3-year-old niece asked me last Saturday during our girl’s weekend. I handed her some lip balm and she responds, “What is this? I wanted lip gloss!”
I find that life sometimes hands me things I didn’t ask for or expect, as well. Like my recent bite into a slice of bread expecting the sweet savor of chocolate, only to discover an olive. Yuck!
Mother’s Day, beyond honoring our own mothers, can serve as a reminder of an expectation, an “ask,” a prayer that has gone unmet. I often receive a flower in church in honor of general womanhood on Mother’s Day. While I appreciate the sentiment, it feels a little like getting a gift on someone else’s birthday.
So, in a way, I feel like I was handed “lip balm,” when I asked for motherhood.
It was Hillary Clinton that made the statement “it takes a village to raise a child” popular a few years ago. I believe those of us without children have an opportunity to be members of the village offering a “balm” of sorts to parents in support of their efforts to train a child in the way he/she should go. We can babysit, volunteer time in the children’s programs at church allowing parents to sit in the service, be another voice of wisdom in a child’s life, or coach a sport; anything to provide extra support to parents.
Perhaps it’s because I’m an aunt, but I’ve always regarded my role in the world to entertain other people’s children, since I wasn’t blessed with any of my own. I think being an aunt is awesome! I get to relieve the parents for a night or two, giving them a welcomed break and me the kid-fix I need without the long-term ramifications and expense of parenting the child.
With my oldest nephew I implemented the “turn 11 years old, get an outing with Aunt Michelle” idea. For the first 11-year-old’s adventure we headed to an amusement park and rode a 120-mile per hour roller coaster, then went into NYC for another day of exploration. My second nephew turned 11 years old in January so we are heading to the beach in several weeks to get some sun and make stop-motion movies with Lego creations. I have several friends offering me their children for 11-year-old outings; perhaps I could turn this into a profitable venture.
I really thought/expected/prayed that my life would deviate from the career path at some point and land me in motherhood where my days were filled with diapers and play dates (plus other stuff, I know), but it hasn’t happened. What I’ve discovered though is the “mothering” skills and desires don’t go away. I need to find outlets where I can allow that part of being a woman to be nurtured. I realize having one niece and six nephews affords me a sort-of built in opportunity to take children on adventures or teach them about lip gloss, but I know many other parents (especially single ones) would welcome an adopted aunt to dote on their children.
For those of you that desire motherhood but have yet to realize it, how have you handled the pangs? Are you like me and need to find outlets for the mothering urges? Is it easy or hard to find ways to invest in children’s lives? If you are an aunt (or uncle), how do you get creative with your time with nieces and nephews?
Happy Mother’s Day to those of you with children! And to those of you desiring motherhood, I pray that the Giver of good gifts blesses you with the opportunity to invest in the life of a little person (and the not so little too).