By Monica Giglio
Our beds have not yet been delivered to our apartment far away from the house we’d known for years. I lay atop cushions from outdoor furniture draped with sheets and blankets on the floor of the bedroom my daughters share. It is the first night in our apartment after leaving our five-bedroom home. On my left, 6-year-old Angela is curled at my side, her head on my shoulder. On my right, Sarah, 5 years old, is nestled in the crook of my arm as I finish reading a bedtime story. From a sleeping bag in his new bedroom, I hear Anthony, 12, call “Mom, I can’t sleep”. I make a spot for him on the floor and invite him to join us. He lies down beside Sarah and I extend my hand to him. Now I am holding all three of them in our new life, physically and metaphorically.
They are all a little bit scared, and I am acutely aware as I hold them that I am their rock and their strength. I offer words of comfort and encouragement to them, and a prayer to God to bless us. I want this new adventure to be a good one for them as I move forward into life after divorce with three young children. I have no idea that I should be afraid too. Instead I am proud and hopeful about the future. One by one, the children fall asleep at my side and my head pounds more and more with an approaching migraine. Eventually I drift off to sleep, exhausted from a day of traveling, packing and unpacking. Tomorrow promises more of the same.
That was our first night in Warren, almost twenty years ago. I had no idea then how hard life would become on many levels. The children were the focus of my new life and I worked full time to provide a good living and vital family health benefits. Over the next few years, I coached sports, read poetry to their third-grade classes, attended all their grade school performances and daytime assemblies, and helped them to become the strong independent adults they all are now. But there were times I was the one who was scared as I navigated the hardest parts of parenthood alone.
When my middle child was born, I had received a poem tucked inside a card to welcome the new baby. For a lifetime, I clung to the words and applied them to all my children as we endured the natural ups and downs of growing up and breaking away.
A Mother’s Prayer
I wash the dirt from little feet, And as I wash I pray,
"Lord, keep them ever pure and true, to walk the narrow way.”
I wash the dirt from little hands, and earnestly I ask,
“Lord, may they ever yielded be to do thy humblest task.”
I wash the dirt from little knees, and pray, “Lord may they be
The place where victories are won, and guidance sought from Thee.”
I scrub the clothes that soil so soon, and pray “Lord may her dress
Throughout eternal ages be, Thy robe of righteousness.”
E’er many hours shall pass I know, I’ll wash these hands again;
And there’ll be dirt upon her dress, Before the day shall end.
But as she journeys on through life, and learns of want and pain,
“Lord keep her precious little heart, Cleansed from all hurt and stain;
For soap and water cannot reach, Where Thou alone canst see,
Her hands, her feet; these I can wash – I trust her heart to Thee.”
The years brought new meaning to the words of the poem as I encountered confusion and powerlessness at times. Our time in in the apartment was brief, and was followed by life in a small condo and then the house I was finally able to purchase here in Warren. Now my dog Buddy and I are the sole occupants of the house and the time is coming for me to leave this home and begin a new journey again.
The words of the poem that guided me while I was raising my children and I did my part with the soap and water, and it continues to guide me now that they are adults. During the times along the way I was unsure, afraid, and powerless, I trusted their hearts and souls to God. Now that they are grown and out of my embrace, I do that every day, knowing He loves them even more than I do. He always has, and always will.