I watch motherhood from the outside, surrounded by my books and garden and time to spend on them. I read Frog and Toad to the kids, but I don’t feed them, teach them, band-aid them, nurse them, shush them, spank them, birth them. I refuse to wash peanut butter off their faces, and even though Mom hates it more than I do, she takes her thumb and smears it away.
Used to, I thought “the least of these my brethren” were orphans without a roof. They are, of course, but they’re also the kids and babies under my own family’s roof.
And so maybe more than anyone I know, the moms I know look like Jesus to me.
In an instant, Barrett’s smile turns to wails and hiccups, and I’m at a loss, so I hold him under the armpits and dangle him in front of Leanna, who folds her arms around him laughs at him. Laughs at him? I want to stop up my ears. She wants to feed him up against her.
I help Brian with office work in their basement and can hear Bennett yelling for Taylor from the breakfast table. Elsie sings over his screams. Hudson’s emotional about his toothbrush. Taylor comes down the stairs slow, due any day and full of another baby, and she sets out paints. She ties aprons around the kids. She lets them work and uses the five minutes to straighten books on the shelf for next year’s kindergarten.
My mom was once a mom of little kids, but I don’t remember it because I was one of them. Now she’s Mimi, and I can catch backward glances of how she handled us all.
The last page of Hebrews tells me I’m to “offer up a sacrifice of praise to God” and that’s a response to Jesus, who washed me with blood from his own veins (Heb. 13:12, 15). I don’t see people washing other people’s feet much anymore, but I do see moms like mine washing away the peanut butter, lifting the boy from his highchair, and kissing a face that still smells.
These are the moms I know, and there are more. Probably, they don’t have four minutes to read this, because they’re quietly wiping faces and floors and so serving “the least of these my brethren.”
But if you did slip away to find yourself here, know that I’ve set down my book and work, and I see you. (That doesn’t matter much.)
Know the King sees you, and here’s what he says to servants who dress the naked and nurse the angry and wipe smelly faces:
“As ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me“ (Matt. 25:40, KJV).