With the birth of the 41st cousin on my side of the family this week, I took a moment to ponder the miracle of life. There are over a million different genetic combinations at the cellular level. It is a complete miracle that so many of us come out with the quintessential 10 perfect fingers and 10 perfect toes.
Have you ever sat and pondered the beauty of a newborn?
Have you held it’s perfectly formed hand in your own, and gazed in rapt amazement at the fingernails and fingerprints that are unique to that human being?
Have you marveled at the inborn sense of self that each infant contains by the mere fact that it knows just who it’s mamma is and where to find her?
MY MIRACLE OF LIFE (x3)
My friends, life is a miracle. There is no doubt about it. Each child is unique in personality and infinite in possibility. Holding a newborn is like holding a fresh start–a little piece of heaven.
As I have welcomed each new child into our home, I have felt a close sense of heaven in my arms. It is always a revelation to watch my own personal miracle learn to control his earthly body. Right from the start, I felt a sense for the spirit within, and to this day, I can tell you that the personality of each of my sons was with him right from the very start.
I look back at pictures of each sweet (and screaming) baby, and I can see traits in him that are a part of him to this day.
- For my first–that never ending wail that pierced the night for hours on end has developed into a determination and drive that has enabled him to be successful in school and sports. In the old days, those long sleepless nights accompanied by hour long crying jags were hard to handle, but now I see the strength and diligence in his unwillingness to ever give up. It’s true what they say, hindsight is always 20/20.
- My second son was born with a sunny and cheerful disposition. His blue eyes sparkled like sapphires. His smile split his face and lit up the room. My goodness how I loved my little ray of sunshine. And even now, never a day goes by that I am not favored with his blinding smile or twinkling blue eyes. His ability to light up my life hasn’t changed either. Yesterday he told me it was his job to make his baby brother smile.
Of course he said this while he was on top of his baby brother, jamming his fingers into his armpits to change that frown from being punched in the stomach into a smile. “If you chance to meet a frown….!”
- And the youngest of the bunch. Oh boy. Oh. Boy! If that kid doesn’t kill me I will have earned every badge and honor that can ever be bestowed upon anyone, anywhere. But he is wonderful just the same. He takes life by storm and lives with such gusto and confidence, he can’t imagine that no one would ever think otherwise of him. I wish that I had half as much self-esteem. With his solid gold hair and mischievous personality, I really do need another pair of eyes in the back of my head.
I guess three’s the charm, and with three boys, I’ve got to be the luckiest mom on the block.
MAKING A CHOICE
As a woman, I have had to make the choice to put dreams of a career on hold in order to raise my kids. It’s a choice I chose to make.
Some days when I am covered in peanut butter and tears, I wonder if I was crazy. But the ability to soothe a child to sleep in five minutes flat, to kiss a boo-boo better, or to hear my son say, “Wow, you know more than an encyclopedia!” makes even the hard times all worth while.
It is then that I realize that I do have a career. I am earning a PhD in child behavioral studies, and by the looks of things at home, I’ve chosen the right field.
IT’S ABOUT LOVE
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I have known friends and family members struggling with the hardship of not being able to have children of their own. As I have witnessed their anguish, I have come to realize that this gift that I have been given is not a one size fits all. But I have also learned just how much of a miracle life can be.
What is it about our bodies that determines who can or cannot have children?
Women who would be the best mothers, with everything to give and nothing to hold back are among those who find themselves without this chance at the beautiful challenge of motherhood.
Likewise, there are many who find themselves with child that feel unprepared and scared of the changes and challenges to come.
But oh, what a beautiful gift adoption can be. For those who are prepared and for those who are unprepared.
In my own collection of nieces and nephews, we can boast of four adopted cousins. Words cannot begin to describe the gratitude and joy each of these children have brought into our extended family. Each one has been fasted and prayed for. Our families have attended the temple imploring God for their arrival. And with each announcement, hearts and souls have been healed and expanded.
The decision to give a child up for adoption is not an easy one. As I have journeyed through this life, I have met a few women who have traveled that road. For them, the decision was a difficult one, with much wavering back and forth. In the end, their decision became more about the life, opportunities, and choices of someone else rather than their own desire to choose.
HAND IN HAND WITH GOD
It has been said that motherhood is next to godliness. I would have to agree. And while I do not believe that you actually have to be a “mother” to experience mothering, I do believe that the opportunity to influence the life of one of Heavenly Father’s children is indeed spiritual.
How often I have walked alongside God as I have searched for the best way to raise His children. Of course, I have failed—daily, hourly, and sometimes by the minute. But when I remember just what mission I am embarked on, I look at my children differently.
They are here because I chose for them to come. I am here because my mother chose for me. And on down the line it goes– a never ending connection of someone who chose to make a better life for someone else—someone entirely defenseless and pure.
Whatever form your path to motherhood has come by, it is a choice.
It is a choice to give up your body for nine months.
It is a choice to give up a baby after nine months.
It is a choice to accept someone else’s baby after nine months.
It is a choice to hold your sister’s baby after nine months and cherish it like your own.
But it is a choice that takes you outside of yourself for the rest of your life. It is a choice that shouts to the world that you choose.
And you choose life–a life that is precious and heavenly and worth a chance.
To all who have made that choice, I stand with you. We are women who have made a choice– to put another’s life before our own, and that truly is next to godliness.
Jessica Clark is a wife, mom, writer, runner, knitter, and proud Canadian. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Anthropology, and has been a student of people and cultures ever since. Right now she is busy studying the behavior and cultures of the people of Texas.