This is me as a baby, yawning, probably exhausted, being held by my Nunni who refused to take off her robe if she wasn’t leaving the house – but put her earrings on first thing in the morning. Being 7 of 10 (ah, yes, the Title of my Future Semi-Autobiographical Comedy Book!!) wasn’t easy.
Compared to what I ‘be’ now, though, it was a freakin’ piece of cake.
I consider motherhood my vocation and not my function.
Motherhood is not incidental to me, it is central. I am terrified to think that someday I will lose one of my children to accident, illness, or worst of all, the death of the spirit: that they will walk away from everything about we have taught them about the Trinity and grace and salvation and redemption. And motherhood doesn’t exclude the importance of everything else in my life, but if I had to choose, I would give up everything else to that vocation: writing, traveling, cooking, eating, even breathing.
I see my number one role as ushering them into heaven. That’s a “be”, not a “do.” There’s no way to earn your way into heaven, it is belief that opens the door. (Awkwardly), there’s a reason that it is called belief and not do-lief.
Function is not central: my role didn’t peak or end at the last gasp of delivery. That’s also how I feel about my children, that it’s not their job to perform their way into my good graces. I ask my children to do the best they can, and then call it a day. There’s no expectation that all of them will go to university, nor have initials after the name Brad and I gave them at baptism, nor initials before. Whether they do or don’t do higher education, get married, have children, we are called to love them either way.
Of late, I have seen multiple incidents of my role being labeled as “breeder.” I wish this were an isolated incident, and maybe it is a defensive posture of people who feel themselves made less by society for their lack of children, but it is laughable as a label. The least of what I have done is birth my children.
The hard work started after that: prayer, prayer, and more prayer. Prayer that they would survive every incident of serious illness in infancy,prayer for safety at the bus stop, prayer that they would find that one best friend in school before Thanksgiving, prayer that they would never catch the eye of a predator or an opportunist, prayer that they would have a good sense of humor (for my oldest, most serious child), prayer that they would look out for younger siblings and respect their elders, prayer that they would catch on to all the niceties that I teach them a thousand times over (please, thank you, you’re welcome, how can I help?), prayer that they would have a heart of service and be Jesus’ hands and feet on this earth, prayer that the rote prayers would become heartfelt and true for each of them as they progress in maturity.
But also, the hard work is being a good example. There are times, like today, where I am sick and would love to crawl back into bed instead of getting the kids off to school, and with a good attitude. But I do it – anyway. From love. There are times where you hide worry and shame and guilt and fear so that your kids can live their lives unencumbered and worry-free. Times when the uncertain future of each child can so burden you – that you can barely catch your breath; and then I breathe, and pray, and watch a good comedy or watch them goofing off with each other, and it’s oh, so worth it.
I try to operate from love. Sometimes the worry gets in the way, or one of the teens’ attitudes or dismissive nature, and then I get caught – Adult Behaving Badly. (I need to get a bright red t-shirt – preferably tie dyed – that says ABB so that my kids have ample warning.)
But I get up the next day, and be again.