I had told my husband about the time a young mom walked through the church hall doors with her two year old and newborn, and how when I asked how she was doing, she immediately burst into tears. "I am not enough...I am drowning..." were her words. I hugged her. I prayed for her. Then I came home, and told my husband, "I wanted to tell her it only gets worse. But I didn't."
He assured me that was a good move.
And I remember you moms; the ones on the upper East side, neatly dressed, who would peer into my peg perego carriage and tell me, "enjoy them while they are young, this is the easy part", and how I wanted to punch you in your stupid happy face, because I was un-showered, fat, and exhausted, and my kid never stopped crying, and I had no idea what I was doing, and good grief, if this was the easy part, just throw me off of a bridge now.
And yet, I wouldn't change any of it, because as my ten year old reminds me, "He pulls out the good, right, mom?" Oh yes, He does. And when I look back at photos of pregnancy, and birth, and parties, I have to say, I feel like a warrior...I feel strong and I feel courageous, because no, it has not been perfect and it has not been without real tragedy, but every step of it has been a step towards becoming the woman God created me to be.
Funny. My younger self believed that I was made a mom, so that through joyful experiences that I would supply, I could raise the perfect, happy family. Now I realize, I was blessed a mom, so that through painful experiences, I could guide imperfect children, to the God who is the source of all happiness.
The hard thing about babies that grow into teens, the weekly grocery bill aside, is that they will fail, just as you and I did, and as I still often do. The catch? We have to watch it. There is no lolipop we can hand them or silly song we can sing to distract them when they fall. As toddlers, a trip on the sidewalk sent them running into our arms. Our grown up kids? They trip, and immediately run away from our arms. And they will not only fall, and run away, but they will settle. They do not see themselves as we do, they do not always recognize their potential, their strengths, the absolute miracle that they are, capable of so much good. And as a mom, I want to fix that for them. I want to swoop in and stop them from taking that step away from the path of greatness. But I can't. Because often, those backwards steps are the ones we need to wake us up to that "so much more" that is right there waiting for us to grab hold of. And if we adults can be honest, I would bet that we, too, often settle. I would bet that many of us right now look in the mirror and fail to see the talents, the capabilities, the miracle that we are.
So, what? Now what? Do we hang out on the side lines like sitting ducks while our kids screw up their lives? Is there a place for us to stand, between full control and totally not caring? I believe that there is. But it is not easy. Because it requires us to have something that this world...this igeneration...knows nothing about.
Oh, how we do not like to wait.
But I have a trick.
I do this thing, that helps me to remain trusting in a God that I can not see, that is reflecting on my own life, my own choices, my own backward steps. I look back on the total lack of love I had for myself, the painful insecurity, the addictions, the false idols, the selfishness, the sin, the bad for me relationships, and the endless broken roads I chose instead of the narrow gate that promised to lead me to an abundant life. I chose wrong. So many, may times. I chose wrong.
He pulls out the good.
My own life was untidy, and my children's lives are no different. Often, it is the way we learn best. And so I a practice patient waiting. Like so many Saints, I persevere in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. (Col 4:2) I reflect on the broken roads my own feet have traveled, and how God used them to lead me to Him. I think about the people He has placed in my younger life, and my life now, and how every single one of them ultimately lead me to a better life; a holier life. Our kids are going to fall. Our kids will lead untidy lives. But as Bishop Robert Barron points out, "we should remember the rather untidy family line from which he (Jesus) descended. And then we should reassure ourselves that God knows what he is doing!"
Good Father, I thank you and praise you this morning for my children. Please protect them from all people and things that lead them away from you. Open their eyes and hearts to see how awesome, and talented and capable they are. And because they do not want to ever take advice from their loser parents...please Lord, send them someone "cool"; send them that person that will introduce them to You in a way that makes them listen. Lord, I pray for a total conversion of heart for all of our children. And finally Lord, I ask that you strengthen all parents of teens today. Grace us with the gift of patient waiting. You know their story, and their journey is far from over. Keep us from wanting to break their fall, and replace it with the desire to fall to our knees; with a life of ceaseless prayer, trusting in you wholeheartedly. Help us to never forget that while we run around this world clueless, grasping at things in the false hope that we can control all of our circumstances, YOU are God...and you know what you are doing. You will pull out the good.