"I'm hungry!" I looked at my son with disbelief. Not ten minutes before, I had placed the final utensil in the dishwasher, sighed, and moved my tired body from the kitchen to the family room. All the signs said that dinner was done.
But not for my son. Where had he put the plate of spaghetti that had just been before him? I remembered it full. I remembered it empty. I'm sure I remembered him shoveling forkfuls into his mouth. Maybe I imagined it.
These are the first words I hear in the morning and often the last ones I hear at night. An hour after breakfast. Thirty seconds after they're in the door from school. Just before bedtime when the humongous meal of the evening has suddenly vanished from my children's bodies.
If my kids had their way, they'd eat nonstop from dawn until dusk, just like birds. That saying, "She eats like a bird" couldn't be more misleading. Barn swallows eat about once a minute. A hummingbird must consume its weight in nectar daily, feeding every 10 to 15 minutes from dawn to dusk. The male of the species requires nectar from 1,000 fuchsia blossoms to maintain its metabolism for a single day! And baby birds?well, they demand food constantly, creating a full-time job for both parents with little, if any, break. But unlike baby birds, food isn't the only thing our kids crave. They need our attention in heaping helpings around the clock.
The supply and demand aspect of mothering is arduous and guilt-inducing. Even in my best moments as a mother, I simply cannot meet all my children's needs. I'm not patient enough. I don't know enough. There isn't enough of me.
We moms give away so much and don't always find ways to restock our supplies of love, patience, and creativity. We can feel so empty, so drained.
When I'm hit by the never-ending demands of my children, I think of the disciples on the mountain in Bethsaida, facing tens of thousands of growling stomachs. Like them, I turn to God and say, "This is too much for me. It's your problem!" What amazes me is how often God responds to me as he did to the disciples, saying, "You give them something to eat" (Luke 9:13).
"Me?" I respond? My head swims. My pulse quickens. I feel like an empty shelf in the cupboard. I don't have enough to satisfy the enormous needs before me.
And then it happens. I go back to that cupboard in my soul and ponder the contents. I hand over an idea for a school-play costume, and God turns it into an outfit. I intercede in a squabble between friends, and God patches a wound. I reach out with my own lessons from making a mistake, and God meets a need for forgiveness.
"You give them something to eat," Jesus says. And then he takes what we have in our hands and multiplies it to meet the need before us.
Elisa Morgan is president of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International. Her most recent book is When Husband & Wife Become Mom and Dad, with Carol Kuykendall (Zondervan). For information about a MOPS group in your area, call (800) 929-1287.
NOTE: For your convenience, the following product, which was mentioned above, is available for purchase:
? When Husband & Wife Become Mom and Dad, Elisa Morgan and Carol Kuykendall
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