Only a mom

May 1st, 2017

A unique love exists that only a mom can deliver. Not a love that is said; a love that happens. Notice it, and you’ll wonder if a divine moment just took place.

My daughter Erin called on a Thursday with jolting news; a car crash claimed the life of a college friend and seriously injured three others. The sound of her short, rapid breaths described the pain she and her sorority sisters felt. At times, there are just no words.   

Two days later, my wife Becky and I drove to campus so we could cheer for our daughter’s tennis match. At the courts one could feel an undeniable heaviness; the team had decided to dedicate the match to the crash victims. Word spread, and soon young ladies from the sorority began to arrive. To cheer, maybe. To cope, hopefully. To show up, absolutely — being there, together, was something they could do to combat feeling empty.

Erin’s roommate Lily was the first to arrive. During our drive, she texted my wife “I need a mom today.”

Like a lost boat that finally spots a lighthouse, Lily went straight to my wife. For a long time, a very long time, they hugged while saying nothing. Tears. Light rubs. An embrace that would last as long as needed. When they released, Lily smiled. Then another girl came and did the same. And another. And another.

As this took place, I ignored the tennis match and considered taking off my shoes. The abundance of healing love flowing through Becky to girl after hurting girl must have come from the One who sees all tears; we were standing on holy ground. I couldn’t speak; I could only watch. At times, there are just no words.

And other times, words work well. Depending, of course, on how they’re delivered and by whom.

Elise, a mom of two young children, experienced a sacred moment as a six-year-old. After undergoing surgery, a problem occurred. Elise would not — could not — awaken from the anesthesia. A potential nightmare had arrived, and concern escalated with every unsuccessful attempt to help her regain consciousness. Until Elise’s mom entered the room.

She walked straight to her daughter’s bedside, bent over to gently pushed hair away from Elise’s ear, and then leaned in even closer. “Mom began to softly sing a lullaby she wrote that she sang to us kids all the time,” Elise said. “It was the sound of her voice that woke me up. They say I smiled.”

“I sing that same song to my kids today. When I do, I can hear Mom’s voice — and still feel her love.” 

Yes, moms frequently do know best. Driven by love they instinctively show and often selflessly share, mothers make love happen. And love can conquer nearly anything.

Late one afternoon, a very young mom showed up in our office with her kindergarten-aged daughter. At first I thought the two were sisters. The mom asked, “When does your next session start?”

I explained that our organization, Kids Hope USA, sets up school-church programs, and that mentors meet with students at school during the school day, meaning we don’t actually mentor children in our office. Eager to understand, she shared with me the reason she asked. “My daughter has English as a second language, just like me. She could not go to preschool and I know she needs help now in kindergarten. She is at Roosevelt School. Someone told me that Kids Hope is what she needs.”

“All you have to do,” I said, “is ask her teacher or the principal for a Kids Hope mentor for your daughter. They’ve run a program there for years, so they’ll know what to do.”

“That’s all?” she asked.

“Yep, that’s it. You should ask soon so that maybe she can have a mentor this school year.”

As mother and daughter walked out our office door and entered the elevator across the hall, she turned with a smile and said, “Thanks!” And the elevator door closed.  

Mom might have been in her early twenties, maybe even younger. Do the math for her to have a kindergartener. Yes, this mom looked way too young to have a child in school. I’m sure that people unkindly judge her everywhere they go. But as I looked at her, I saw a mom who’s willing to speak up for what her daughter needs, despite her broken English. I saw a mom who wants her daughter to do well in school. I saw a mom bold enough to find out where we’re located and show up to ask for help. I saw a mom clearly tired from life, but determined to make life better. I hope someday the daughter appreciates her mom’s extra effort.

The deck is stacked against this young lady and her daughter. But mom is willing to ask for new cards. I’m betting on them.

Why? Because whether it’s on a tennis court, in a recovery room, or at an unfamiliar office, a powerful and unique love exists that only a mom can deliver. Not a love that is said; a love that happens. 

*Portions of this article are an excerpt from the book Show Up: Step out of your story and into someone else’s (Dust Jacket Press, 2016) by David Staal.

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