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What I Learned from Bee-Bee (the Hamster)

Mothers come in all sizes—but the task remains the same.

Eva was finishing her bedtime preparations. Washing her face, plucking any stray eyebrows, thinking about the next day's outfit for high school, and feeding her new hamster, BeeBee. I was settling into my own nightly rituals and enjoying the relative peace of day's end when: "Mom!" came the shriek from down the hall. "Come here! Now!"

I dropped my toothbrush and ran to find my daughter standing rigidly above her hamster's cage, eyes wide and mouth open. "BeeBee's having babies!" she announced.

Sure enough, seven-week-old BeeBee, an occupant in our home for only the past two weeks, was a mother. Eleven (did you get that, eleven!) half-inch long worm-like babies were mouthing the air about her, searching for food. Ahhh, I thought, bless your heart, BeeBee.

In the days that followed, I saw in BeeBee an illustration of motherhood. She ate that she might feed her babies. She slept, sprawled out for her babies to reach, that she might warm her babies. She shoved pinestraw in womb-like piles that she might protect her babies. One morning, we peeled back the towel which covered the cage to find it empty. Gasping, I searched madly for the itty-bitty babies. I pictured National Geographic moments where wild animals eat their young and I panicked with worries of just what BeeBee had consumed for breakfast.

At last I discovered BeeBee, with her brood, safely snuggled inside her plastic hamster ball. She had scooped them all in with her and sat, happily feeding all eleven. As I peered down at her, she dislodged herself from her spot to greet me and struggled through the ball's opening, dragging all eleven mouths with her.

This was commitment. Motherhood. "Oh, BeeBee!" I whispered. "You're doing such a good job!"

Most moms enter motherhood without grasping all its commitment. We have no idea that we can develop a sense of acute hearing even when we are asleep, or a keen instinct that knows when our child needs us. The many roles of motherhood stun us with their variety: Costume-Designer, BooBoo-Fixer, Macaroni-and-Cheese Maker, Story-Teller, Lesson-Lecturer.

The movement from one season to another awes us and we surprise ourselves with our agility as we adjust to our child's messages: "I need you!" "I do by myself!" "I need you again!" "Leave me alone!"

When we mother, we relive Paul's words to the Thessalonians when he explains the extent to which he went to enflesh the gospel for them: "We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well" (1 Thess. 2:7-8).

With eleven babies under her care, BeeBee demonstrated the power of a mother's love. In all the ages, stages, and roles, mothering matters and so do moms. A mother touches the life of her child each day and leaves a heart-print forever.

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

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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