I came home the other day and I noticed them in the corners of her bright blue eyes. Big, heavy, wet tears. Though her smile tried to hide them, I knew they were still there. After 13 years of marriage, a husband knows what to look for. My bride had been crying again.
It’s not that she is a drama queen or even easily upset. She is pregnant with our fourth child (due in less than three weeks). And though some may think it is just her pregnancy hormones, they would only be half right.
My wife is in the one percent of all pregnant women who get what is called hyperemesis. It is a severe form of morning sickness that lasts all day and all night, all nine months of pregnancy. It is the unrelenting and excessive (pregnancy hormone induced) nausea and vomiting that prevents adequate intake of food and fluids. She has had this condition with all four of our children. Medication helped her get through the first two. These last two have been so severe she has had a permanent IV pic-line put in for the duration of the pregnancies.
Yet, the amazing thing is, my bride rarely complains. She loves being a “mama” so much she is willing to endure the wretched sickness and all that goes with it. And she is an unbelievable mother. She is dedicated, compassionate, giving, selfless, and tender. She loves shaping our children and teaching them in the way of the Lord. From our pajama filled breakfast prayers to our chaotic evening devotions and bedtime rituals (which often includes more than one child running around with their underwear or diaper on their head), her children are the apple of her eye. (And since I tend to be the biggest kid that she takes care of, I know she is pretty fond of me too, though she is happy I stopped running around with underwear on my head.)
She can be absolutely and utterly miserable and yet, she rarely complains. However, her quiet and heavy tears regularly cry out her lament. Over the years there have been times when her retching has nearly turned her stomach inside out, her pounding head having been blasted into a migraine, and her back aching so badly that she is doubled over, but where she simply comes out of the bathroom and says, “I will be o.k. Just give me a minute.” My bride puts on a brave face. Most, even those closest to her, really don’t know how miserable she is. (She wants to write a book to give other mothers who endure similar misery and sickness some hope.)
Sometimes she gets down on herself if she has a bad day with the three kids outside her womb. I try to tell her that most moms’ who aren’t sick have off days, let alone trying to tend to three kids being miserably sick while your husband is away at work.
She is passionate about being a mother—holding them, singing to them, teaching them, blessing them, disciplining them, encouraging them (whether it’s our 7, 4, or 2 year old), she loves it! Sure, there are many tough days. Yes, her patience is tried. And without a doubt, she has been heard to yell out, “Calgon take me away!” But she desperately loves our children. And she desperately loves being a mother.
I simply marvel at how she manages, especially while being so sick. I get the 24-hour stomach flu, and I moan, bellow, whine and demand my wife, my mother, my grandmother and a whole intensive care unit, be at my beck and call. (Admit it guys, we are just big babies when we get sick.)
Yet, mothers, especially stay at home mothers, are deeply underappreciated in today’s society. They are often looked down on and seen as less valuable than a real “working” mother. My wife is amazingly talented. She has degrees in music and psychology, plays and teaches the piano and the drums, has a master’s degree in exercise physiology, and is a certified instructor for nearly every fitness class imaginable. Yet she chose to be primarily a stay-at-home mom (with my full support).
She does no less work by caring for our children and our home. Dirty children, dirty diapers, dirty laundry, dirty dishes, and picking up the never ending trail of toe-jamming toys, half chewed on broken crayons, crinkled paper, lost socks, leaking sippy cups, and stale bread crusts, she earns half of my salary.
Being a mother is not easy. (Being a wife, especially when married to me, isn’t easy either). Nonetheless, it is a noble vocation. In fact, it is a God pleasing vocation. Such vocations are essential to the makeup of the Holy Christian Church. I, for one, (along with my children) rejoice at her vocation. I rejoice that it is most assuredly a part of the mission of God. And I rejoice that He has blessed me with such an incredible wife and mother to my children.