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The Empty Arms of A Mother

70:365 One hand in my pocket

Photo by Camera Eye Photography (creative commons)

Right now my arms are full.

Full of pudgy cheeks, dimpled fingers, hair needing brushed, blankies, and sippy cups. Full of lap sitters, bedtime snugglers, and slow-to-wake-uppers.

It’s a funny thing, motherhood.

Every mother begins her journey with empty arms.

Once that precious baby (then the next, and the next) fills up our arms, our entire role as mother is to work ourselves out of a job. The goal of raising a happy, healthy, productive grown up results in the very thing a mother dreads: empty arms.

Sadly, some of us never realize the potential, joy, and craziness that accompanies the full arms of motherhood. Some of us have empty arms and grieving hearts, yet are mothers none the less. Arms, hearts and wombs ache at life lost, or given up, too soon.

Some have empty arms yet hearts full of memories; years spent loving and learning and growing. And now, whether across town or across the world our babies are living, working, walking, loving and filling arms of their own.

And some have empty arms that tremble still from having held so precious a thing as your own child only to have it ripped away. Illness. Tragedy. Mystery.

And though motherhood ultimately ends with empty arms the journey itself is marked along the way by moments of emptiness. Glimpses of the independence that will all too soon leave us standing awkwardly not knowing where to put our hands.

The empty arms of the first step.

The empty arms of the big boy bed.

The empty arms of the first day of school.

The first dance.

First kiss.

First set of car keys.

And so, while exhausting and trying and terrifying I will take a breath today. And tomorrow. And tuck these days away deep in the recesses of my heart. Into the place no one can touch, Β or rob, or sully and I will enjoy. And laugh. And ponder. And rejoice.

While these arms are still full holding hands. Hearts. Blankies. Books. Because I know all to soon they will be empty. One way or another, whether tomorrow or twenty years from now, that day will come far before I’m ready, or willing.

But on that day, though my arms be empty,may my heart be full.

I’m linking up with Your Thriving Family, The Miss Elaine-ous Life, The Better Mom, Time Warp Wife, Growing Home, Women Living Well, Raising Homemakers, Denise in Bloom, Inentional Me

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25 Responses to “The Empty Arms of A Mother”

  1. onefunmom says:

    Jen, this is beautiful! You have such a way with words!

  2. Becky Daye says:

    Beautiful! Lovely reminder. Happy Mother’s Day to you!!!

  3. Maren says:

    This was incredibly beautiful, and so touching.

  4. rebeccawatkins says:

    I enjoyed this very much, thank you. Rebecca @ Natural Mothers Network ( Seasonal Celebration Sunday) x

  5. I was so touched by this I had to send it to my mother to share! I have a mother who has a daughter (me) 1500 miles away in Kansas and a son who is just 4 living at home, so it was a good fit for her as well. It made me tear up, so I just had to share! Thank you for your heart, and Happy Mother’s Day.

  6. Melissa @ the pleated polka dot says:

    This is so true! Such a bitter-sweet role we have as mama’s. I too, tuck away precious moments to be forever treasured and pondered. We will hold them tight and love them hard and feel honored when they are grown into amazing adults…though I do hope it comes slowly:-)

    Happy mothers day friend.

  7. Elaine says:

    Oh my goodness, such beautiful thoughts and words! πŸ™‚ I had to tweet before I even commented! πŸ˜‰ You are an amazing writer Jennifer. xo

  8. katehood842 says:

    Beautifully put. I often think about how sad I’ll be when my children are too big to sit on my lap. And my giant 7 year old is already entering that territory…

  9. Tammy says:

    I’m the mom with empty arms and a miles and miles away from all three of my children. One child is in SC at boot camp. Another is expecting his first child next month in TN. And my last born is in missionary boarding school in Kenya. (We love in Tanzania.) This morning I was looking at pictures of the baby shower and just cried that I can’t be there. Just cried that my son is experiencing a first and I’m not there for it. It was a rough Mother’s Day this year with my empty nest. Ladies, I sure wish I would have taken more time to hug, and laugh, and play. I homeschooled my kids for most of their schooling years. I think being with them all day, every day gave me a false sense of “forever.” I knew in my head that they would leave all too soon, but my heart didn’t get the message! Now I yearn for the times when one or the other would sit at the end of my bed and have long conversations. I miss them all dearly!

    • Oh,Tammy. (((hugs))) my son was born he in Ireland, with our families back in the states. He was our third, but it was still so hard to be away from my and hubby’s moms.

  10. It’s a slow process this emptying as the years drift along and I think its exactly the way He intends it to be. Because the more days that pass the easier it gets to let go. Mine are teens, only two years till one flys away and though I will miss her I will be smiling and putting my hand to the next thing He has. Lovely thoughts.

  11. So beautifully written. Funny how you ended referencing empty arms, but full heart. I was thinking about that as I read.
    I must admit, I dread those days when my arms will be empty. Reading Tammy’s comment above breaks my heart. : ( I hope my children never move far away. For now, they are still all home. And while they are, I am not forgetting to treasure every day with them.

  12. Tammy says:

    Thanks ladies for your sweet words. It was an especially hard day when I wrote my comment. As I said, Mother’s Day was really hard, but I was so blessed by my son in boot camp remembering to write me an email and have it set to deliver on Mother’s Day. Then I got to talk to my other son on Facebook and he said to me, “Mom, I couldn’t have asked for a better woman to raise me. I know it is cliche, but you are the best Mommy in the world!” To that I replied, “I’m so thankful that time erases mistakes and leaves memories.” I can regret not reading to them more; playing one more game of Uno; playing Play-do instead of cleaning, etc. The most important of all these things is LOVE. My kids KNOW I love them. They choose to focus on the good in this Mom rather than the mistakes. I’m must have done something right! =)

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