32 years ago, my mom wandered into a little shop on a family trip and found this beautiful print. She was pregnant with her second child, my brother Michael, and wondering about how life would change with a new baby in the mix. She saw this picture and it spoke to her: when that sweet babe is in your arms, love multiplies.
She recently gave this print to me and I cried a lot (add to the list of things that make me cry: family keepsakes, the song "landslide", Target gift cards, when Rachel finds out she's pregnant on Friends). I look at this picture and I can feel William's warmth on my shoulder, hear his soft breathing, smell his sweet skin, feel the wisps of his blonde hair tickling my nose. I can practically transport myself back 32 years and see my mother experiencing these same wonders with her little boy. She was there, as I am here, and it was in the caramelly center of those early experiences when she decided that she was smitten, twitterpated, dedicated, all in for motherhood. And that, of course, is what brought me here. We are living this together, side by side, in different decades.
There is nothing new under the sun. Isn't that fascinating? The bible says in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that "what has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." On the one hand, that's kind of a bummer. It kind of eliminates the validity of our desire to truly wallow in moments of self-pity. Those times when we're rundown or in pain or exhausted. When I was pregnant and fearful about childbirth I was constantly told, hey. Women have been doing this since the beginning of time. You're not alone. But in the throes of actually experiencing it, it was like, NO. NO ONE HAS EVER DONE THIS. THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE.
What if you actually were the first person in existence to experience something, though? That would be so legit. Talk about being vindicated in your moment of suffering. In biblical times, yeah. There was a first person for everything. There was a first childbirth, a first stoning, a first infidelity, a first death in the family. Those hurts and pains and life struggles were raw and real and they could actually say, God. This isn't fair. NO ONE ELSE HAS EVER HAD TO GO THROUGH THIS. We don't really get that satisfaction today.
But on the other hand, that's kind of okay. It's comforting. No matter what the circumstance is, you're not alone. After countless generations of lives have been lived on this earth, you can rest in our God who sees, and in the God-given camaraderie of mankind. When you post on Facebook that you just stepped on a LEGO, everyone will be like OH DANG GIRL. We've all been there.
That camaraderie and universal understanding is what makes being a mother so rich. I'm not at a table for one. I'm not experiencing these things on an island. I have generations to back me up, including my own mother and grandmother and siblings and friends. It's such a wonderful place to be. When I look at this print, tears fill my eyes because I see William and I in it. But I also see my mom and Michael in it. And so many other mothers I know and love with their baby boys and these glorious moments that are so unique but so beautifully shared throughout history.
There is nothing new under the sun...but it's certainly my first go around under its light, and I'm going to cherish the brilliance. I'm so thankful for the gift of this life (and the gift of this token of motherhood). If you've ever seen the movie About Time, you'll know what I mean when I say I'd like to spend each day as if I've deliberately come back to this one day to enjoy it. Also, if you haven't seen About Time, stop reading this and go buy it and watch it. Or come over to our house and experience it with Dusty sobbing beside you. That's my favorite.
(Thanks for this gift, momma. I will cherish it. Thanks for being my mother for life.)