I started reading 1 Samuel lately, and right off the bat was thrown into Hannah's emotional roller coaster as she hoped and prayed for a baby, and then had Samuel, and then took him to the Temple to live.
There are many things that are so interesting about that story, but one aspect of it has really stayed with me the last few weeks. If I were going to leave my child in the hands of someone else to raise, I would be curious to find out how that had gone in the past -- how the other kids raised there had fared. Looking at Eli's own two sons, I would not have been encouraged: they were known as "wicked men; they had no regard for the Lord." Hannah was obedient, though, and followed through on her promise to give Samuel to the Lord, and therefore into Eli's care, and as it turned out, God in His great and sovereign grace led Samuel on quite the opposite path from Eli's sons.
Obviously I don't know how or why God chose to use all these circumstances to raise up Samuel to be that great man of God, but I like to think that maybe He used Hannah and her mothering of Samuel to steer him along. She seems to be a key factor in the difference between Eli's sons and Samuel... otherwise the known external circumstances were the same in both cases. But Hannah came every year to visit Samuel, and -- this is my favorite part -- she always brought him a "little robe" she had made for him.
She knew him so personally and intimately that she lovingly created him something every year that he would wear daily between his undergarments and the little priestly ephod he had (how cute would that be, by the way??). Dads are obviously invaluable to a child's development and nurture, but I'm pretty sure most dads wouldn't even know what size garments to buy for their children. Moms alone know their kids so well that they can always customize (or at least find) the clothing they need. And only moms would be patient enough to sit and make little articles that wouldn't even be seen by the general public, just so their children feel cared for. And if Hannah was spending all this time making these little robes for Samuel, and making the journeys to come visit him each year, you know she was also praying with every stitch (when she wasn't telling the younger children to stop beating on each other), and speaking the personal words to Samuel that he needed to hear when she visited.
I love that I get to be a mom and make "little robes" for my children. I also love that I can do this figuratively and not literally because my sewing attempts have been abysmal. I love that I know my children, body and soul, better than anyone else on earth, and that I am the one who gets to care for them intimately. I pray that I will learn more about what they need, and will each year be able to give them the things that will help them feel loved, not just by me, but by their heavenly Father as well. And I continue to pray that they will follow the path of Samuel, and learn to hear and follow His voice.