For all you mothers out there:
Yesterday, I traveled to Birmingham to be with Katie, my baby girl, on her birthday. Yes, she is still my baby girl, though we celebrated 22 years together. As most girls would, we thought it fitting to treat ourselves to a pedicure in a nice salon.
While we soaked our feet and turned up the massage chair, I looked around the salon at the various women of all ages. As usual, I began to wonder what their stories were. I am fascinated by people’s stories. Everyone has one. God is the master author of each and every one. Every story has conflicts and drama. Usually, there is some comedy thrown in for good measure. But the Master Author continues to write our stories every day, and if we trust Him, we can be confident that the story will have a stellar ending—much more than we could imagine.
In this vein of thinking, my eye fell upon a young woman with two children who had just entered the salon. The children, both curly head girls, were beautiful. They had big bows placed strategically to the side to keep back the curls. They had precious matching outfits. They both looked to be similar ages, so, I assumed they were either twins or at least born very close together.
While both children were beautiful, what caught my attention was the one in the wheelchair. The one who had her eyes closed, and would sometimes loose control of her head causing her beautiful blond curls to cover her entire face. My heart squeezed at the sight.
And then my attention turned to the mother. She, too, was beautiful. But she looked worn out, haggard, and a bit overwhelmed. She was dressed in gym shorts and a t-shirt, hair in a ponytail, and no make-up. And did I mention she was beautiful? I thought to myself, “I am so glad she took time out to do something for herself.”
In two seconds, I had walked through the past thirty minutes with her. I could picture the hard work that it took to get there, dressing two little girls, one of whom could not help at all; packing a “diaper” bag, years after a diaper bag should have been unnecessary; loading the girls into car seats; loading the wheelchair. I remembered how exhausting it was to simply get everyone in the car. Only, I struggled with strollers, not wheelchairs.
And since I could imagine what her past minutes had been, I began to imagine what she must be thinking at that moment. Which section has the most room for the wheelchair? I began to look around trying to select a spot for her. I saw her speak to the receptionist, and then point to the wheelchair. Yes, I thought, they will help her find the right spot so maybe she can relax for just a moment.
My thoughts continued to the next set of issues. How will these little girls keep entertained while their mother gets a manicure? I hoped she had thought through this one. I hoped the bag hanging from the wheelchair was filled with snacks and toys and an Ipad—at least for the girl that could walk. The other precious angel still had not opened her eyes. Her head had fallen two more times, so the mother had titled the wheelchair back to reclining.
I turned away for a moment to answer a question about what color I wanted my toes painted. When I turned back, I saw both mother and healthy daughter sitting side by side in the manicurist chairs. Only the little girl was the only one with soaking fingers. The little girl was the one getting the manicure. And the mother with tired eyes was watching and beaming with delight. It took a moment for me to comprehend the simple sacrifice playing out before me. A wave of emotion swept over me. I wanted to cry and hug that mother and tell her how amazing she is.
I wanted to shout across the room, to this complete stranger whom I suddenly loved,
“I SEE YOU!”
“I SEE YOU!”
“I see the sacrifices you are making every day.
I see how tired you are.
I see how difficult it is.
I see that you are holding on and making the most of heart-wrenching circumstances.
I see your courage and your strength.
I see your joy, which is so obviously displayed as you give your little girl the manicure you deserve.”
Like a slide show of snapshots my mind traveled back 5 years or so and glimpsed her life. I imagined a beautiful young couple walking the aisle in front of family and friends vowing to stick together in sickness and in health. I guessed they never dreamed they would need to stick together in sickness and health of their children.
I imagined the day they knew something was wrong. Was it during pregnancy this syndrome was discovered? Or was it later, after months of wondering why her baby was not developing like her sister? Whenever it was, I can imagine the horror and grief when she realized that this information totally changed the course of her life.
My Katie saw me looking and without words, I could tell her mind was following the storyline, too. We looked at each other, on the 22nd anniversary of her birth, and she said quietly, “That could have been me.” I nodded as I remembered my own story. Long, hard labor, cord wrapped tightly around her tiny neck, the rush of doctors and the flurry of the emergency team.
Then, the silence. Holding her and rocking her and wondering what the effects of oxygen deprivation may be.
Twenty-two years later, I praised God that we were spared the storyline I saw at the manicure station across the room. I knew God had been faithful to protect Katie, who is about to graduate college with a double major.
And yet, the truth is, God is equally faithful to the beautiful woman with a different story. In fact, she must be very beloved of the Lord to be trusted to handle this difficult and beautiful life she is living.
I believe He, too, wants to shout to her, “I SEE YOU!” And this is what He says to her and to each of us: I will be faithful each and every day.
Together, my friends, let us declare the truth found in His Word:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22-24