A game board rests on the floor, the pieces weary from the constant interruptions. The game is taken up again, occasionally, when someone remembers its presence and calls us back to the task.
One woman speaks. “Remember that meltdown I had a week or so ago?” We all smile and nod and listen as she confesses the same truth we all know to be true in our own lives now and then. “It turns out, it wasn’t as big of a deal as I originally thought.” We all laugh and smile and someone tells her she has an excuse for dramatics since her husband is out of the country. We all giggle like girls and embellish upon what could be excused by this truth. And I think we all hurt a little inside as we say it, but we keep smiling…keep upholding her in love as we walk this journey together.
Then we talk of mothers and how we overcompensate for our own and their shortcomings. It grows quiet for a moment and I think we all are contemplating our own weaknesses and how our children might overcompensate for the ways we continuously fail them. I think someone whispers something about grace…or maybe it’s just my soul whispering it inside my own self…but I know we all hear its song.
A sister mentions her mother-in-law and we all groan a little and laugh and smile and, in loving jest, remember our own moments of angst with the mothers of our husbands. Then we look to the mothers of boys in the room and say the things their daughters-in-law might say about them and we all laugh at the thought and know that, even then, we will be there to hold each other’s hearts.
We talk of being grandmothers and how we will love our children and theirs and the legacy we want to leave and I think we all wonder what that day will look like. We remember forward to a time when we might all sit in the same way, on the floor, and tell stories of a new generation.
We speak of Biblical wonders, of falling hard, of receiving grace, of failure and of triumph. We look into these weary, loving yes and we whisper it silently. I know.
You see, only another mother knows what it is to be up all night in sacrifice. Only another mother knows the crushing pain of guilt as we fall hard every day in our endeavors. Only a sister can see inside your soul and know, even without speaking, the hurt that lingers and the joy that abides. We know and we empathize and our empathy is the most forceful of its kind because it flows from a heart of having lived it too.
I think briefly how tired I might be tomorrow as someone runs to the kitchen for chocolate and another gets out a new game. We joke about who is winning and who has lost but we all know it doesn’t matter because the game is not why we are here. The game is not what dragged us out in the rain late on a winter’s night away from our families. The game is not what anchors the mother with the nursing baby to this carpet, rocking her cherished, the fourth one she’s birthed.
It’s this. It’s the loving, the living the laughing and crying. And I forget about being tired and think about being real. We eat chocolate in the warmth, our faces aching from the joy, and are nourished.