A lot of my time is spent thinking (and talking) about the personalities of my children. I will often refer to my oldest as "strong-willed," my middle as "emotional" and my baby as "fun." I can talk and ponder for days about how my children react to the world and, more importantly (to me), how they challenge me and often make my life miserable.
Not too long ago, I stood at the door with a friend of mine who often takes Grasshopper to school. We looked at each other, as we often do, with eyes of desperation. These children are sucking the life right out of us, our eyes said to each other. I sometimes wonder if, after I raise these kids, if I will have any energy left for me.
Yesterday, actually a while ago, a thought started to protrude into my head that would bring tears to those same desperate eyes. I was watching the Duggars on 19 Kids & Counting (only because it comes on before Sarah Palin's Alaska) and in this episode the oldest Duggar child and his wife announced their pregnancy. It would be their second child and another grandchild of Mr. and Mrs. Duggar.
What made me cry was Mrs. Duggar's response to this announcement. You'd think, in our world anyway, that an announcement like that would bring a weary sigh out of a mother of 19. How will she ever be able to enjoy this grandchild when her arms are stretched to their limit with her own babies? That was not her response at all. She, instead, shed tears of joy over the announcement. She obviously perceived the impending birth as a gift.
Back to yesterday. It was the feast of the Holy Innocents. We remembered the death of those babies that were murdered by order of King Herod. He had found out that a king (Jesus) had been born and wanted to make sure that this king would not be a threat to the thrown. Of course, Jesus was saved due to Joseph being warned in a dream, but all those other baby boys, under the age of two, were not. I wondered how those mothers felt. As I held my baby boy, he fussed over something, as he has been lately, and instead of feeling desperate and fatigued by his constant drags on my time and energy, I thought of those women whose babies had been ripped from them. How the echoes of those lives lost must have tortured their thoughts and how they would take the fussing and crying any day just to have their babies back in their arms.
Although I am pro-life, I am still a victim to our culture's attitude that is not. We, like most, planned our children, except for our first. In fact, when I found out I was pregnant with her, I was a little irritated because that was not what I had wanted. Having children in our culture is all about me. How will these kids influence my life, my time, my job, my relationship with my spouse, and my dreams. We discuss the cost of time and money before we think of the gift of a life.
I want to change my thinking. I want to be more like Mrs. Duggar. My children are not a problem to be solved or even an extension of my existence. They are a gift. A gift to me and to the world. It is not my job to figure out their personalities or to place them in the right places for success, although that is part of my role in their lives. My job is to care for them as the gifts they are. My duty is to nurture their souls. They have come to me, as a gift from God, with great potential to change the world for good, and I must hold their souls tenderly. It is not about what they take from me, but how I am helping God to mold them into His image. My work with the souls of my children is a lot like Michelangelo's chiseled masterpieces. He worked to bring an image out of a block of marble that, he beleived, was already there. It just had to be chiseled out. So too, is the work I have with these innocent souls that have been given to me. What a gift.
|Pieta by Michelangelo|
(one of the most moving works of art I have ever seen)