Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” [Proverbs 31:25-30 (ESV)]
“Hurrah! Hurrah!” said Corin. “I shan’t have to be King. I shan’t have to be King. I’ll always be a prince. It’s princes have all the fun.”
“And that’s truer than thy brother knows, Cor,” said King Lune. “For this is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there’s hunger in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land.” [C.S. Lewis]
Reading that excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ The Horse and His Boy, reminded me of a conversation my daughter and daughter-in-law had after having children. Recalling the years they had been carefree princesses, they spoke of things like manicures and pedicures, dining out, shopping sprees, weekend jaunts, undisturbed sleep, spontaneity and leisure. Motherhood, however, had turned them from princesses into queens and queendom (with its soiled diapers, sleepless nights, spills, tantrums, responsibilities and drudgery) was hard work. They couldn’t remember when last they’d donned their princess tiaras or their size 2 jeans and realized their last manicure was done by a four-year old. Designer purses had been traded for diaper bags and five minutes alone in the bathroom was more precious than a massage. Date nights had given way to play dates, a child’s scribbles were more valuable than fine art and the name of a reliable baby sitter was better protected than any online password. As queens, they had an entirely new skill set—they could fix ouchies with a Disney Band-Aid and a kiss, had developed a third eye on the back of their heads, could hear a baby whimper or a child climb out of his crib, and could sing “The Wheels on the Bus” endlessly without going crazy.
Don’t get me wrong—my girls weren’t complaining. As Queen Mother, I completely understood—motherhood is demanding. The girls had no regrets—they knew how blessed they were by God’s gift of children. Nevertheless, the enormity of that responsibility weighed heavy on their shoulders. When motherhood turned them from princesses into queens, their hearts expanded so they could put aside their desires for the needs of their children. They learned about patience, compassion, and love. Along with queendom came the burden of living by example and it involved far more than eating their veggies or using please and thank you. Queendom required them to be calm when they were anxious, strong when they felt weak, and brave when their knees were shaking. Princesses can cry and get flustered—queens wipe tears and offer reassurance. As queens, they knew that little eyes were watching as they offered courtesy for rudeness, forgiveness for wrongs, and love to even the most unlovable. Like any good monarch, my girls were learning about sacrifice and what it was like to live for others. They finally knew that being a queen (or a king, for that matter) has nothing to do with crowns, thrones, robes, power or wealth—but that it has everything to do with love.
Sunday is Mother’s Day, a day to honor and revere mothers—and all those who act as stand-in moms. It a day to honor them, recognize their contributions and thank the women who put aside their princess tiaras and took up a queen’s crown made of construction paper, tape, stickers, glitter and glue. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the queens in our lives who taught us about life and love. Strengthen them and give them wisdom as they continue in their blessed (but challenging) work.