My heart joyfully, painfully broke. The first day I saw Little Girl in the flesh, the day she breathed her first breath, she had an infection and required a baby IV. She scratched her tiny face raw with it. From the bottom of my heart, the slight break began and inched its way slowly upward. And long before she had the IV removed and received her first princess Band-Aid, I placed my very first Band-Aid over my mama heart.
Little Girl fell when she was a tiny tot. Her mouth kissed a land timber against her will in our front yard. Oh, she cried. I cried. I placed ice on her sweet lip when she’d tolerate it, and I placed a Cinderella Band-Aid on my own heart. I’ll never forget how traumatic the event was, but we were so blessed that she didn’t lose any teeth or need stitches. Thank you, Father. After she cried herself to sleep, I laid her down in her sweet baby bed. I peeked in at her as she was waking. She eased to a sitting position and said, “Big.” I nearly fell to the floor laughing over her remark. And oh, her sweet lip was so swollen.
Not long after that, Littlest Girl had a kidney tumor. It was the nightmare you imagine. And better and worse than you imagine. Littlest Girl had to be poked and prodded. Continual blood-work. Whenever the nurse would cover Littlest Girl’s arm or finger prick with a Band-Aid, Little Girl wanted one, too. And she’d take and place her bandage on her sweet body in the exact same spot as Littlest Girl’s. It was her sweet way of empathizing with her sister. And this mama would open the white wrapper to a Mickey Mouse Band-Aid and place it over her own heart.
As the years passed, boo-boos came and went. More bandages placed over this mama’s heart. The thickness grew and grew, the colors growing wide and vivid.
Little Girl was at church one night. She scooted over on the bench to let a friend sit down. Before she could move her hand, friend sat down on her thumb. It broke. Little Girl was so brave. Her broken thumb didn’t matter one bit to her, but her friend’s broken heart did. We spent the wee hours of the morning in the hospital’s emergency room. And this mama added one pink Barbie Band-Aid to her heart.
Little Girl and Littlest Girl are growing up. One’s a senior. One just turned Sweet 16. Little Girl just got her first car. This mama’s heart can barely take it at times. Every time my girls leave out in that car, without their mama chaperon, I walk into the bathroom, open the cabinet, and look through the assortment of Band-Aids before me. What will it be today? Winnie the Pooh? Superman? Hello Kitty? Hearts? Minnie Mouse? Tinkerbell? Disney’s Frozen.
But that’s what mamas do. Right? We love our kids. Through broken bones, broken toys, broken dreams, broken hearts. Because love always takes a risk. But it’s the pain and the cuts and the scrapes on our hearts that turn it more beautiful, brighter, more colorful.
And as the thickness of the bandages grows, the padding becomes softer. And with the extra softness, we’re able to take a little bit more in order to comfort others a little bit more. Like … to comfort our children. To offer a soft place for our children to place their head against our hearts as we hold and comfort them. No matter how old they get. And for one day to comfort our children when our grandchildren get their first boo-boos, or endure surgery, or endure disease, or endure stepping into the arms of Jesus. We never know, do we? One day to the next. We never know.
The mama heart never stops adding bandage after bandage. Peeling away the wrapper—that end of the sticky side, the other end of the sticky side—and placing it over the heart.
Because a mama hurts when her babies hurt.
Mama, this is your Shelli. Your Shelli Ann. Thank you for the bandages you’ve taken for me, taken for your grandchildren. Season after season. Thank you for your beautiful heart. Yes, that beautiful heart of yours, covered in layers of Band-Aids—bright pinks, greens … princesses, tiaras, Eeyore, Mickey Mouse, hearts …. Thank you for the prayers you’ve prayed and the tears you’ve cried over me. For watching me walk out that door, for watching me take one step away from you, for watching me get cuts and scrapes and broken. You know all my secret broken places, all my secret injuries and scrapes. Thank you for all the times you’ve let me rest my head against your soft stack of Band-Aids and allowed me to cry my heart out. And thank you for all the times that you’ve placed the bandage over me and for adding one more bandage to your own …
To make a mother’s heart …
A mother’s heart that is beautiful, bright, bold … bandaged.
And a dear friend’s daughter survived a horrible car accident recently. We are praying for McKenna, who is 18. Her mama’s heart is buried deep in bandages right now. Would you pray with us, too?
Happy Mother’s Day.