“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.”
Psalms 127:3 NLT
God uses funny things sometimes to teach us. The past couple of years I have found myself reflecting on life, and motherhood, whenever I see ducks. I know, a little weird right? I mean, ducks are nice animals I guess. I never gave them a whole lot of thought before. I am a dog person, and a horse lover. Their qualities are obvious: strength, beauty, loyalty, friendship. But God can use whatever He wants to teach us, even ducks. And they are pretty cute!
I first started noticing them about a year and a half ago when we moved into our house. Where we live there are so many quaint neighborhoods, all filled with pretty little lakes. It’s beautiful scenery. And in those lakes, of course, there are ducks. They became familiar faces, even before we knew anyone else in the neighborhood. We would see them on our bike rides and trips to the park. I still pass them on my morning runs and say “good morning, ducks”. They just look at me, but I think they appreciate the gesture.
My favorite is when the babies are born and my sons and I get to see the mother ducks with their little ducklings waddling along behind them. It’s adorable! In our area, all throughout the spring and summer there are new ducklings hatching. I love to point out to my boys how well the little ducks follow their mommy and stay right in line, what good listeners! And the mommy duck takes such good care guiding and protecting her young.
One particular day as the boys and I were out exploring by the lake, we saw one mother duck with 19 ducklings running alongside her. That’s a lot of babies! My first thought was how cool it must be to have that many ducklings! But I have to admit, she looked a little frazzled trying to keep them all together. I wondered if they were all from her own eggs, or if she had “adopted” some of them, or was babysitting for some other duck mommy…whatever the case, all 19 were obviously following her closely and energetically!
A moment later I looked over at the lake and saw a different mother duck with just one little duckling. They were swimming and eating together at the edge of the water. When I first saw them, I immediately felt a little sad. Why did one duck get 19 babies, and this momma only get one? But as I thought more about it, I realized maybe it wasn’t something to be sad about, maybe it was a sweet gift. The mother with 19 definitely wouldn’t be able to give each of her ducklings the individual attention that this baby was getting. It was so sweet to watch the two of them together, peacefully going about their business.
I am anthropomorphizing here a bit, putting my human thoughts and emotions onto these animals. I know that the mother ducks were not thinking deeply about their lives as I was at that moment, or comparing the number of babies they had. They were probably just following their instincts to look for food for themselves and their ducklings. But for me, the experience was much more profound.
In my mind, those momma ducks represent all of us who are caring for our little ones. We are trying to keep them safe from harm, teach them, and help them follow our lead. Whether you have 19 children…(you probably don’t have 19, but if you do…God bless you!), or 1 child, you have an important job to do. And it is important to do that job with all your heart!
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Colossians 3:23-24 NIV
God gave each us the amount of children he wanted us to have. Every one of them is a unique gift. Sometimes we get distracted when we look around and start comparing. I am fairly certain that the mother duck with one baby wasn’t looking jealously at the duck with 19 and feeling cheated, or like less of a mom. She was putting all of her energy into feeding and caring for the baby that was given to her. I am also pretty confident that the mom with 19 wasn’t jealous of the duck who had one. I don’t think she was focused on how overwhelmed she felt with the big job she was given, or wondering how will she ever take care of all of those ducklings?! Let’s be honest, she wouldn’t have time to think anyway, chasing 19 ducks! She was focused on the job at hand.
Watching these two duck mommies and their babies made me realize that whatever number of children we have, there are challenges and gifts that go along with those circumstances. The important thing is to be thankful for the gifts, and prayerfully rely on God and His strength through the challenges.
I told you that long story really just to say something very simple…be thankful for your job as a mother and do it with all of your heart and soul. Know that you are working for the Lord, even if no one else might notice the way you give so much to care for you little ones; He sees it all. No matter how many children you have, whether you have boys, or girls, or some of each, they are yours for a special purpose. Never forget that God chose you to be your children’s mother, not someone else. And He created your little ones for you. He knew what he was doing when he placed those little souls into your care, and he never makes mistakes. Whether you have one child, or four, or ten, or any number in between…you are the right woman for the job! I hope next time you see a duck you will remember this story and it might make you smile and think about what a special gift your children are to you. What matters is the attitude of your heart, and your commitment to being the best mom you can be for your kids, and for the Lord, not whether you have all of your ducklings in a row.