Surviving Stretching Muscles

I learned today that a good friend’s child is moving with their family half way around the world. I know it’s not unusual for children to live far away. I did it. For 14 years I lived with Tom in Africa - raising our children halfway around the world from our parents.

I have one child that lives with their spouse across town and another that lives with their spouse four hours north. I can be on their doorstep in 30 minutes or less than 5 hours.

For now.

When mothers fall pregnant with their children, God begins a process of stretching muscles we don’t know we have. Our bellies stretch beyond imagination to hold the small bundle growing inside. That child moves our organs and makes us to sleep in uncomfortable positions, then wakes us up when all we crave is rest.

Muscles stretch and sometimes tear in order for that bundle to make its way out and into our eager, waiting arms.

I’ve always imagined that lifting and holding our growing children explains a verse in Proverbs 31 that promises “her arms are strong for her tasks.” Muscles worn out and tired. Pacing, then rocking a crying baby, whispering soothing sounds to calm a tender soul.

Muscles that stretch and grow.

Pulling wagons. Lifting, tugging, pulling and cajoling them in and out of bed. In and out of the bathtub. Into the car. Out of the mud. Every moment love burrowing deeper and deeper into our hearts.

Our hearts.

The biggest muscle of all.

Oh, the stretching it goes through.

Stretching to carry memories of sweet kisses. Bumped and banged up knees. Holding tight at bedtime to hugs we wish would never end.

Pulling inside us as we wrestle down our impatience. Groaning when we realize all there is to change to become the best version of “mom'“ that we can be.

Waving goodbye as the bus drives off. Walking away with unsteady gate, determined to be strong when they weep at our leaving. Holding back tears when we realize they no longer notice when we walk away.

Who knew that becoming a mother would stretch my soul in so many different directions.

How can a heart survive all those pulls and tugs? How can it possibly stretch to hold them close when they move so far away? How can we survive the pain that lingers? It’s good pain, my children remind me. Good pain comes from working out. Good pain shows I am growing.

Without the blessing I would not know the pain of stretching muscles. Who knew that pain could be lovely?

A body is rarely the same after all the stretching. Those changes are badges of love. A love that leaves us breathless with pride. A love that holds a million wishes and dreams.

A love that stretches to hold them close…from halfway around the world.

Lori Ziegler