Every mother has vivid memories of the moment when her newborn child was placed in her arms for the first time. Every mother can recall the overwhelming rush of emotions - the wonder, the exhilaration, the all-encompassing love - that engulfed her as she held her babe to her breast, felt the warmth of the little fragile body, examined the tiny fingers and toes - G-d's perfect creation.
But such a peak of emotion does not and cannot last. Soon, our life is settled into a routine, and those of us who are mothers to babies and toddlers know that this routine includes nursing, diaper changes, a vast deal of laundry, mashing up bananas, breaking up fights, messy play, sand from the sandbox all over the house, sticky finger marks on the recently cleaned windows, bath time turned into a water fight, and many other, sometimes endearing and sometimes frustrating, marks of our precious little ones' early years.
There is a lot of fun along the way, but sometimes we feel exhausted, overwhelmed, or too busy, too caught up in the daily grind to perceive much beauty around us. Sometimes we aren't even sure what it is, exactly, that we are doing. Especially if you are the only one in your surroundings to keep your toddler at home with you, sometimes you end up wondering whether you are wrong to be doing differently, whether the common, easy and neat way to dispose of children throughout the day isn't better. In particular when you have no extraordinary achievments to boast of, nothing evident at which you could point and say, "see, it is obvious that my child is doing better than other children, and that's why she is better off being at home with me."
It is understandable to be discouraged sometimes when there is no immediate reward for what we are doing, when the investment we put in will sometimes take decades to show results.
But last night, as I put my children to bed, one look at my soon-to-be-3-year-old brought back that rush of love and gratitude, of excitement and devotion, that I felt back when she was put in my arms, in the very first moments of her becoming part of this world. "I have a daughter!" I cried, "It is a miracle!"
I may not be a perfect mother; no, I will never be a perfect mother, but I am the only mother these children will ever have. No kindness or affection of other people can replace or overshadow the importance of a mother in the child's life, and so my job is to take step after step, day after day, growing in gentleness and gratitude, and being always there for my children, physically as well as spiritually.
As their little personalities are in a large proportion influenced and changed by my attitude, so I am challenged and changed by their presence in my life, and so we all are guided, molded and shaped by the kind and wonderful G-d who placed us all together on this journey.
And this is our own private miracle.