Amanda sat at our breakfast table enthusiastically and with body language describing the antics of her new kids, goat kids. The babies were born just a few days ago but are already leaping and cavorting with amazing energy around their pasture. In fact, I saw the kids only an hour after they were born and watched them nursing hungrily and playing with each other. Amanda’s own “kids” greatly enjoyed cuddling the new offspring.
“The most amazing thing, though,” continued Amanda, “is what a very good mother Hershey is.” Hershey, a beautiful black nanny, knows how to place her young and keep them safe while she grazes and browses. When she’s ready for them she gives a call that they instantly recognize and up they leap.
How does she do it, Amanda wondered out loud. “If only I could get such total and instant obedience from my children.”
I thought back to many years of owning goats and remembered so many times seeing babies “planted,” as I described the situation, beside the trunk of a tree or in a safe corner of the barn. I called these little settings of kids “goat nurseries.” More than once, a mother not only “planted” her baby but hid her kid so well, we spent hours hunting for it. There were other signs of a mother’s love and care. If one strayed and found itself on the wrong side of the fence that mother didn’t rest until, by repeatedly bleating and nudging, she corralled her young back to its proper place. I’ve seen a loving nanny goat patiently walking with her two or three kids, stopping every few feet to let one or the other nurse.
But, Amanda and other young mothers, you, too, are showing yourselves to be very good mothers.
When you can’t be with them, you “plant” your children in safe care. You teach them day by day. You keep in touch with teachers. You scan the homework papers. You discern what illnesses need a doctor’s attention. You nurse their bumps and bruises. You urge them to brush their teeth and you celebrate each lost pearly white and its new tooth. You make quality time for each one with their different emotional, spiritual, and physical needs. You feed them. Oh, my, do you feed them! It may be pizzas, macaroni and cheese, hamburgers and hotdogs. Or cabbage and roast beef, or chicken and rice, and oh, lots of delicious fruit. And broccoli and carrots and corn on the cob.
You correct and push and prod them to do their best. That’s a hard daily job.
Maybe they don’t leap up at your call and rush to obey you every time. But they listen far more than you give them credit for. Could even be, they’re listening when you wish they weren’t!
You are thrilled over their every achievement. You celebrate lavishly every birthday. You plan fun events. You know all their sizes and their various preferences and you shop diligently for the best clothing buys. If you have five children to shop for, that can be quite an undertaking.
You stand strong on such things as cleaning their rooms, minding their manners (of course they’re not perfect, you realize that!), washing dishes, quite a number of things nanny goats don’t have to worry about.
A big all-important thing that you do is to go to church with your children on Sunday and other times. When they see you worshiping God, they will often want to follow. Which is not to say that all is calm and sweetly peaceful in the pew. Our youngest great grandchild requires much shushing as he draws pictures and tries to explain them or attempts to fly a paper airplane. I love to see young families in church. When a mother takes one to the bathroom the whole troop of three or four follow her up the aisle and two thoughts flash through my mind: “How blessed she is!” and “Bless her heart!”
Sometimes it sounds as if a nanny is laughing, whether at her young or at herself. Whether or not she is, it’s a good thing for any mother to recognize the humor in family situations and lighten everything with a good laugh. Did you hear about the little girl who exclaimed concerning a half moon, “Mommy, look at the moon! It’s broked.” Or there was the child who interrupted his spanking by turning to ask “Did that hurt your hand?” And there was a Ruth Graham story about her daughter Anne giving her younger sister a biblical lesson. Ruth discovered the two when little sister Bunny cried out. When asked what in the world was going on, Anne explained that she was teaching her sister to turn the other cheek. She would slap one cheek and Bunny was to turn the other one. Bunny wasn’t enjoying the lesson.
All else aside, young mothers do have a huge challenge, and we need to take every opportunity to encourage them. Amanda is wistful about the care of her children as she starts a new job. She’s worried about not being as close by when they might need her. Her comment about Hershey’s being such a good mother reminded me of how much we need to pray for all our young families, the mothers and the fathers. Their job raising up their “kids” is more important than any other! Raising kids and coping with a job away from home makes life more challenging. The key is to lean on God day by challenging day. And I’m glad Amanda’s Nana (me!) can be a safe place for her to “plant” her young ones at times.
Kids and kids, alike and different, and so cute together!