A Lesson in Motherhood: My Boys & Martin Luther King

I woke up to an already buzzing household. Eliot is up before the sun and brings Travis with him, spilling his toys all over the bedroom floor to play until Isaiah and I come in to play, too.

We struggled to do a little homeschooling, and my temper and patience flared up and down as Eliot’s did, especially when he dumped the steaming hot coffee all over me.

We trudged through the rest of the morning, and I stopped to sing, to draw from the deep well that gives me rest and peace in huge draughts.

I stand at the counter and type, and I hear Travis tell Eliot that it’s Martin Luther King’s birthday. Eli comes out singing, “Happy Birthday to Martin King!” and his little world is light as a feather because his peace is in singing, too.

How do I tell Eliot who Martin Luther King was, when it’s difficult to explain what a syllable is during our alphabet lesson?

How do I explain, then, a labor union or contract negotiations?

No, I’m afraid I can’t.

So what can Martin Luther King teach me, a tired mom who is trying to drink her coffee and love her rowdy boys simultaneously?

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear…

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

We can stretch our arms out in front of us, far outside of our homes and away from our children, giving justice to the other.

But first, peace must start in this place, this roof overhead, in these cobwebbed corners.

Because hate is too heavy a burden, and in our behavior toward our little ones, they should see love abounding and expanding.

The boys rest for a few minutes, looking at books. They scan the pictures and words- a world opening up before them.

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They are expanding their hearts and brains for new realities, and I am opening myself up for the same thing.

Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for the reality of peace and justice extended to every man.

This morning, I’m fighting to expand myself into new love for my boys, new hours of patience and kindness and so much more grace.

And maybe one day we’ll watch his speech, and Eliot and Isaiah will know that peace starts here, on the couch where we’re gathered, and spreads out to the broken.

May it be so.

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