Back in 1974, veteran humorist Erma Bombeck penned and published a touching Mother's Day tribute about the very moment when God created mothers.
"She has to be completely washable, but not plastic," the Lord tells an angel in Bombeck's column. "(She should) have 180 movable parts... all replaceable; run on black coffee and leftovers; have a lap that disappears when she stands up; a kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair; and six pairs of hands.”
According to Bombeck - a devout Catholic and mother of three herself - the Lord said mothers also need three pairs of eyes, the talent to feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger and a tough-as-nails exterior that can endure almost anything.
It's been four weeks since we brought our newborn son home from the hospital, and during that time, as I've tried to balance my attention between an infant's needs and the natural adjustment period of my three-year-old daughter, I've thought a lot about Bombeck's words.
Have I felt the need to be completely washable? Absolutely. Especially at 3 a.m. this morning when this baby regurgitated Similac down my neck and projectile pooped on my pajamas at the very same time.
Have I been looking for those five other pairs of hands? Every minute of every day.
How about the black coffee and leftovers? I take mine with sugar and cream, but that's basically the only difference.
When it comes to kissing boo-boos and balancing a family, Erma really knew how difficult "doing it all" could be. I suppose that's why in Bombeck's vision, sometime during the creation process, God's angel finds a flaw: A leak coming from the model mother's eye, dripping down her cheek and staining her face.
“There’s a leak,” the angel pronounces. “I told You You were trying to push too much into this model.”
But it wasn't a leak, it was a tear, God responded, respresenting all of the joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride a mother experiences on a daily basis.
And for the past month, as I've continually cried for no reason - during midnight feedings, at the dinner table and when my husband or my daughter or my son does anything remotely sentimental - I've thought about my own leaks.
Yes, the constant flow of post-pregnancy hormones have made me extra weepy and sleep deprivation is an amazingly emotional experience. But as I sit here, blogging with one hand and burping with the other, I realize that my extra-leaky exterior is also an indication of my super-duper mommy resolve.
In the process of building our family, I've joined a very special club: A sisterhood of women who do it all, rarely complain and juggle all of life's ups and downs with a God-given grace.
How do mothers manage a home, a family and all of the other incredibly important daily details? The coffee helps, but thankfully, we're all waterproof too.