Sunday, November 05, 2006

Marked

It never fails. Whenever I go out into public alone, I have at least one or two encounters with someone else's small children, often more. A little one, sitting in a grocery cart, makes eyes at me while his mother shops unawares. A young boy breaks away from his mother in line and approaches me with a tale of something, very exciting to him, that he wishes to share. A small child waves in my direction across the aisles and through the crowds.

These things have happened so frequently that it had me wondering for a time: Did the boys mark me somehow? Could they have written on my face, in some invisible code, a message that only children can read: "Mother of many. Sympathetic to little ones. Attention available here?" Was it possible?

This morning I ran out to pick up some wine glasses. We had dinner guests coming. I wanted to run the errand quickly and since little boys and stemware don't mix well, I went alone. As I stood in the aisle picking and choosing and changing my mind, I became aware of a little girl with her mother beside me. I smiled at the girl and she smiled back. I looked at the wine glasses and then back at her. Her huge brown eyes met mine and she laughed, shaking her curls. As I continued to choose my glasses, we exchanged many smiles and when I had finally decided my purchase, I waved goodbye. My new little friend waved back.

In the parking lot, as I was walking toward my car, I caught sight of a little boy sitting in the back of a moving vehicle. He looked out at me through the tinted window and gently raised one hand in greeting. I raised my hand, too. Each of us watched the other as his van drove away and out of sight.

It was then that I realized that my boys have marked me, though not with a message written in words. With their sweet faces and little ways, with their pure hearts and tender feelings, they have marked me. They have shaped me and molded me to be patient with their stumblings and sympathetic to their affections. They have trained my ears to listen to their tales, so exciting to them, that they wish to share. They have trained my eyes to look with wonder upon the beauty of their simple little world. They have shaped my heart to love what I see and hear from them. They have shaped me.

My boys have molded my arms and my life to be so full of themselves that whenever I am alone (however briefly) I am looking for them. I see them in the face of the little girl in the store. I see the likes of them in the little boy in the back of the van. It is me that reaches out to these other children--stealing a glance, offering a smile-- and they respond readily and affectionately, as children do.

Yes, my boys have marked me. They have shaped, pounded, molded and formed me and they will continue to work me as God has intended-- stretching my patience, softening the hard places in my heart, pushing my hopes and desires beyond myself, and kneading me until I learn to rely ever more fully and constantly upon Him.

Amen, I say to you, unless you become converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever that shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of God. And he that shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me. --Matthew 18:3-5

16 comments:

Love2Learn Mom said...

I like that!

CMW said...

You are spot on with this post. It happens to me to! I sometimes wonder what the parents must think of me if they happen to see the exchange. I wonder if I should tell them that I have four at home (so they don't think I am some kind of looney). I loved what you had to say. Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts. You have a very lovely writing style!

Melissa said...

Beautiful, Suzanne. So beautiful.

Jill said...

This blog entry is beautiful. And so timely. This just happened to me today, too. I took the kids to an indoor playground at our local mall. A four-year-old boy struck up a conversation with me- first about his toys and his Christmas list and other things. Then he talked about his dad, his daycare provider and what his life was going to be like soon because he was going to have a new sibling. I kept checking to make sure my kids were ok. And, admittedly I kept thinking, "I am spending way more time with this kid than my own kids." But, then I thought to myself, "I bet nobody ever sits and really listens to this little boy." So, I listened and listened until his daycare provider summoned him to leave.
We mothers are not just mothers to our own kids, but are in a sense 'mothers to the world.' As we would defend the lives of the unborn, we also hope to enrich those of the children around us...just like you said- with smiles, waves, conversation, and a loving heart.
I love your closing scripture verse. Add it to the immense list of reasons why children are such a blessing from God. They teach us so much.

Jamie said...

This also happens to me!! Great post! I think you are right, we look at them, maybe because we have the time when our little ones are not with us?

Erin said...

I can definitely identify with your post, I have noticed that since I have been teaching and I am "mom" to so many needy teenagers, random kids seem to be attracted to me as well. It is quite a blessing.

Mary Poppins NOT said...

Awww, that was so sweet. And so true. And now I'm off to hug my kids!

Diane said...

Wow, Suzanne. This is a masterpiece. Truly. So perfectly written and what incredible insight---it really touched my heart. Thank you.

I have this happen to me as well. Now I know why.

Michelle said...

Hi, Suzanne! This happens to me, too. I think most little ones are just so attention starved that they are drawn to us moms who are more in tune with the wants and needs of children, since we're home all day with them. Amazing what some simple eye contact and a smile will do! Glad to know I'm not alone! :)

Thanks for the comment on my own blog...I was so glad to have found yours! I read it every day, along with Nutmeg's. Your boys are just adorable, and YOU don't look one minute older than I remember you from TAC! You look great!

Apropos of nothing, I have a memory of you from right after we both became engaged...standing on the porch of St. Kate's, comparing engagement rings! LOL! Well, not really comparing...we were just admiring them, and talking about how hard it was to keep them sparkling. I think we trading tips about how to keep the gems clean...toothpaste and an old toothbrush or something like that? I don't know...I remember you having an antique ring, though...is that right? Strange what you remember...I can't find my car keys, but I can remember that little detail about your ring, plus the words to millions of old oldies songs. ;) Hope you are well...love to read your blog! Take care!

Michelle Halpin (nee Firmin)

p.s. Do you keep up with Kristen Wassell at all? I always wondered what became of her? She was so sweet to me at TAC, letting me borrow her clothes all the time!

Suzanne Temple said...

Wow! Such great insights from all of you! I don't know if I can respond to everything here.

First off thanks love2learn, melissa and c.m.w, jamie, m.p.n, and diane! diane, you are too too kind.

jill, I like what you say about being "mothers to the world." It reminds me of something Fulton Sheen says in his book "The World's Greatest Love" about how all good women draw a circle of people about them just because of the love they extend to everyone and how Mary does this most completely and truly is the "mother of the world."

erin, yes, I can imagine anyone who works with and for people would have the same experience. Thanks for bringing that up.

michelle, Great to hear from you! I remember that thing about the rings now that you mention it! I would have forgotten completely. I do have an antique ring. I haven't given a thought to keeping it clean since that day I spoke to you! As for Kristen, we are as close as ever--in fact, she may very well see this and respond herself!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing so eloquently what I was thinking. Many times I have to let the parent in on the exchange because I am a stranger and they are to protect their child.
Karen

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! How true, and how lovely.

We take our kids swimming at the Y every week, and whenever the pool is full of kids in the afterschool program, I get constant calls to "Look at me! Watch this! Look at this!" Most of the time, my friend and I are the only moms in the pool. The kids so long for attention, so want to be "seen." They seem to find in us some grown-ups who will see them.

Suzanne Temple said...

Your very welcome 1st Karen, and yes, we do need to be careful for the parents' feelings.

Yes, Karen E. I bet any child would feel, in your presence, that they are "seen."

Anonymous said...

Suzanne,

This is beautiful. The same always happens to me and I could never figure out why.

Your post explains what really should be obvious to me...wonderful. I was in tears.

Suzanne Temple said...

Thanks for visiting, ladybugs, and thank you for your kind words.

Rebecca said...

Beautiful post Suzanne! It is all so true.