The scent of new skin fills my nose
As I press your warm, sweet forehead to my lips.
The bundle of your tiny form fills my arms,
Perfectly fitting into the cradle they shape.
The joy that I feel at finally rocking you to sleep
Fills my heart to overflowing –
The love that I feel for you, wee one – part of my very flesh –
Is almost too much to contain.
And then the alarm jolts me awake
To the reality that you are not there.
My arms are still empty,
And the ache in my lonely heart is still all too real.
I’ve wanted to be a mother for twenty-five years. When people ask the question, “Do you want to have kids someday?” I look at them oddly. Of course I want to have kids – there has never been a doubt in my mind that I was made to be a mother.
During my twenties, that desire was still there, but it didn’t seem pressing or urgent, as I figured there was still time, and it would just happen later. But suddenly within the last year, the reality of my limited biological time to have children has become stronger.
Of course, I know that there are still ten to twelve years that I could physically have children, but even if I were to get married in the next several years, there’s no guarantee that my body would be able to bear them. And my current reality is that I have empty arms and a mama-shaped hole in my heart with no prospects of that changing soon.
And there are some days when it hurts more than I expect.
And you just have to cry the tears and feel the hurt – the weight of the world being affected by the gravity of sin. This is not the way that God intended it to be. And He understands. He catches those tears, cradles our heavy hearts, and draws us near to His everlasting side.
In the midst of that weeping for what could be and currently is not, God comforts me by bringing to mind some beautiful promises – promises pointed out to me by my own mother. She has reminded me multiple times of these verses in Isaiah 56 that say,
“For this is what the Lord says: ‘To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant – to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.’”
In a society back then that was built on your only legacy being left through your biological children, this promise gave hope beyond what society said was your greatest achievement. And it still gives hope to those of us who are childless today. God sees our sacrifices, He sees our faithfulness to Him, and He promises a memorial in heaven to those who will never have an earthly family of their own.
When we don’t allow our sadness to become bitterness; when we see the task that God has called us to, and we turn to it with obedience and diligence; when we hold fast to the One who is always faithful to us – we will be building that eternal legacy in heaven.
The days feel long sometimes, and that eternal hope often feels far away. But I do catch glimpses of it even in my everyday life.
Because even though I might not be a mother to children of my own, I do feel that I can still be “motherly” in a multitude of ways – not the least of which is as teacher to the bundle of fifth-graders that I’ve been given. It is such a joy to build a relationship with them where they learn to trust you, tell you about their lives, and love you – and an even greater joy when that relationship continues long after they’ve left your classroom.
Earlier this year, I got this note from one of my last-year students – and even though the words are simple, it meant the world to me, knowing their background.
“Dear Miss Kinne, Thank you for being my favorite teacher and being the best ELA teacher of the history of humankind. You’re also one of the funniest teachers ever. You let us do fun stuff, and have a whole lot of fun. I wish I was still in your class.”
They are one of those students who will forever be imprinted on my heart because of the difficulties they’ve been through and how much I want them to succeed in life. And I so badly wished I could mother this student – but I had to trust that God used me in their life just the way I was meant to.
And then just the other day when I was checking in homework, I glanced down and saw this note penciled on the back of one of their homework packets –
“Miss Kinne, I love having you as my teacher. You’re really fun, funny, and just amazing. I love having you as my teacher. You’re just an amazing, fun, cool ELA teacher. And we all appreciate and love you, Miss Kinne.”
– once again, the perfect reminder that I needed that my work is of value and God is using me in ways that I wouldn’t be able to do if I had children of my own.
Some days those reminders don’t always feel like enough, especially when my Instagram feed is filled with so many baby pictures. But God does continue to be faithful, even in the midst of that heartache, and He pulls me close to Himself again and again.
Mother’s Day is just one day – an important day to celebrate all that our mothers do for us – and a little tough for those who don’t carry the title of “mother” at all.
But then we go back to our daily lives of faithfully carrying out the tasks we’ve been given – loving those in our paths who are a bit unloved, serving those who are a bit in need, and being a passionate proclaimer of Christ to everyone around us.
And in the end, that is what will matter the most.