Amy French and mother

Amy and her mom

The night my husband rolled his ankle over the foot of another volleyball player who’d come under the net, his lower leg split wide open. The diabetic teammate almost lost consciousness after taking in the sight. I ran like a wild woman thinking I’d pull the minivan around to the back of the gym and load him up for the hospital.

After my shock subsided slightly, the ambulance took us to the emergency room and the first logical thing I did was call my mom.

While the E.R. nurse winked and asked to take pictures of his wound (bye, bye HIPAA), informing me he’d never seen anything like this, I frantically relayed the circumstances and my mother’s calm strength on the other end realigned my senses.

She would be there shortly.

After reassuring my children why their parents were not yet home, she arrived at the hospital.

While he was wheeled to surgery, she laid out a plan and I dutifully submitted—we’d wait and pray with my pastor through surgery and then I would head home to clean up, rest, get kids to school the next day.

Things were scary, but she’d come to stay the night and watch over him.

At 2 a.m. while I crumbled at home, my husband would later tell me that when the pain became excruciating following surgery and when no one else was there to intervene, she did.

She pounded the desk at the nurse’s station, unrelenting, until someone could offer relief.

She was the strength when the strongest man I know could not be.

As we approach what often feels a sentimental weekend, I realize that creepy pastel and watercolor images with lacy fonts on Mother’s Day cards do not convey what I am seeking.

Why moms are relegated to the flowery, the lighthearted, the doves taking flight over a faded sunset, I do not know.

Motherhood is hard and requires a strength we often cannot imagine. It requires sacrifice. The tasks are daunting.

Responsibilities morph from keeping a tiny, defenseless human alive to learning you can only pray for the large and hairy humans that are yours will just stay alive.

When I only had three children, the middle two just 13 months apart, I thought I’d never leave home again. The worries wore me down and mom encouraged me to enjoy every moment because, get this, these would be the easy years.

She was right.

She had four children and has even survived the darkest hour a mother can face in losing one of her own. Yet strength and sacrifice have prevailed.

I hope that this kind of strength will prevail for us. There have been broken hearts, lost faith, moving out, moving in, failures, falls, successes, struggles both internal and external, pain that cannot be removed by a mom.

Strength and sacrifice in the face of your own adversity is one thing, but strength and sacrifice on behalf of your children is a holy calling that transcends the every day.

Trying to take it all in at once, I think, is what makes the challenge seem insurmountable.

Anne Lamott, in her book “Bird by Bird,” wrote, “You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you.”

This requires a certain trust that you will have what you need in the moment you need it.

My own mother has spent a lifetime demonstrating this—like showing up in an emergency room to advocate for her child, to aid in time of need.

She has worked to teach me this.

I hope I can learn this kind of strength and sacrifice—and maybe find a card that conveys as much.

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