According to Toni Morrison (on Oprah) the true test of maternal love is when your eyes light up when your child enters the room. As the mother of seven, I doubt very much that my eyes lit up every time each of the seven entered the room but, since I loved each one dearly, it is my hope that at least sometimes they could see in my eyes that they were cherished. “Cherished” is my favorite word lately.

I think a child knows somehow instinctively if it is welcomed and loved. My dear departed friend, Dr. Herbert Ratner, said that the focal distance of the eyes of the newborn baby is just the distance of the child at the breast to the mother’s eyes. It is by the feel of her arms and the look in her eyes that the baby knows that it is special and cherished. God in his goodness helps us warm to our babies with the maternal hormone, oxytocin, the “cuddle chemical.” Face it, babies are a bother. Some people choose not to have them lest they interfere with their lifestyle. Happily there are others who are willing to accept them, bother and all, and even delight in their wonderfulness. It is in being loved that a child learns how to love.

When my fifth child was two I wrote a poem about him. I even put the poem on a wooden plaque with cartoons of Linus and his blanket.   The last lines went thus:

He drags his blanket to me
To wrap him up and hold –
He is neither child nor baby
He is just a two-year-old.

We all need someone who, at least sometimes, is willing to wrap us up and hold us and make us feel cherished.

My friend, Alice, has been in a nursing home for several years now. She never refers to the nursing home as “home.” She calls it, rather, “the place where I live.” Alice has nine children, some of whom are quite well off. There was a time, after her accident, when she really needed convalescent care, but now she is up and about and lucid for the most part and she wishes she could be with family. Yes, she will tell you, it’s a very nice facility. Yes, the people there are very kind and accommodating. And family visits at least once a week.

Some nursing facilities smell and are understaffed. You might say the occupants are “housed.” Others, like Alice’s, are clean and staffed with good-hearted people who are paid to do the job. You might say Alice and the others there are “cared for.” I think the trouble is that Alice, while well-cared for,  doesn’t feel “cherished.”  She is no bother to anyone in the family  while in the nursing home and the state picks up the expense.  Why not?

That’s cherished.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love –
I have called you, and you are mine.”
That’s cherished,

Once, long ago  — SOMEONE — poured himself out on a cross for us. That’s cherished.

And he’s waiting.

It’s Thanksgiving Day!


“A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” – John 15:20

For “not cherished”  click here.