This morning there were three sets of hands intertwined in my rosary. The rosary was a gift from my oldest son. I vaguely remember a message from my son’s school about each of the children being given a rosary for the mother in their life. In my mind, he sought it out as a gift uniquely chosen for me. I can live in this delusion because I witnessed the face of a six year old attempting to be discreet in his behind the back gift bearing on the way to my minivan. Once he arrived he held it out to me with pride. His sweet offering to me was shared this morning with his baby brother.
I have been a mother for nearly seven years. From the moment the stick turned pink I began loving and wanting all three of my children. Once I gave birth to them and they were placed into my arms crying out for the warmth of my body I was overwhelmed by my emotions. I have always wanted to experience motherhood. My ideas about what that experience was meager compared to the reality of raising my children.
I love being a mother in all of it’s extremes. Sleeplessness, hypervigilance and love beyond my ability to explain. I am amazed at how much I have learned and how much more I feel I am completely unqualified to particitipate in this amazing gift. There are women that have been mothers for much longer that still share the same sentiments. The learning curve does not appear swift or kind.
In honor of Mother’s Day and my own sweet memories of the smell of coffee and perfume as I layed my head in my mothers lap during church as a child, I have created a list of lessons that I continue to learn.
Once labor was over and I was handed my first born son I was overcome with the realization that this was another person. I had dreams for this child that were not made void by his birth but they were considered before we met. After our introduction, I knew that he would grow, make choice and my control would be substantially weaker than I had assumed. I was hit by a sudden urge to teach and release. Their lives would not be my own but theirs to create. The only problem was the next lesson.
It hurts tremendously to watch your children make choices that will inevitably cause them pain. My children make decisions now that earn them skinned knees and time outs. Even now it is a challenge to be the giver of consequences because it truly pains me too. I don’t want them to be hurt or miss out. However, without setting the proper guidelines the greater consequences will come later and I suspect the pain will be much deeper for all of us.
During the time that I was in my mothers house she was determining the kind of mother I would be. She set the time and the pace for which I guide my children during the days that I watched her. I often find myself repeating her mannerisms (chewing on my nails while in deep thought) and sharing her rules. Some rules I swore I would never use and some that the wisdom is so clear even a fool could recognize their usefulness. These things I ponder as I watch my boys watching me. I still call my mother for guidance when I am angry, frustrated or just so sad I can’t take a breath.
I had no understanding of the bond that I was creating between my husband and I. At the birth of my first child I demanded that my mother be in the room. I could not imagine going through the pain of delivery without my mother to reassure me that I would be fine. My husband was merely an afterthought of cultural submission. Nearly seven years later and I think the tables have turned. The father of my children has become the strength to my frame. He is the calm to my storm and without question, irreplaceable in our lives.
When I married my husband I told him that I still would have my own dreams and goals. The same rules applied once I gave birth to my children. I still follow my own visions. The only real difference is that with me must come snacks, drinks, a double stroller and an oversized handbag that doubles as a diaper bag. I believe that no woman should lose her identity to the sacrifice of raising children. I find a piece of my identity within them. I also find myself in places that I have locked away only to be shared when I am willing but always to be preserved for my retreat. The woman I am saving is the woman that they all truly want.
Our priest once told me that all mothers are Saints. After I laughed in my usual self deprecating manner, he said it again in all seriousness. The more I think about it the more I have to agree. It is a miracle to carry a child within your body and eventually give birth to him so he can begin his life. It is a miracle to connect to another human being with so much strength that there is a physical pulling to your flesh when you are apart.
It is a miracle to feel a better understanding of spirituality from the relationship you have with your children. All at once you feel what Mary must have felt at her conception, when Jesus was lost to her teaching at the temple and when she must have watched helplessly as he died on the cross. All, before the ressurection, must have seemed insurmountable. It is a miracle to have a moment of clarity where you understand what your parents must have meant when they said they loved you and to know on a very small scale how God must love us.
We create miracles everyday and I am grateful for the gift of my children. Who knew that they would make me magical?