Wednesday, December 22, 2010
When I Stopped Saying "Please" and Started Saying "Thank You"
I shuffled rooms around and reorganized the house to make room for one more soul.
I exercised consistently and ate well.
I stayed away from anything stronger than Tylenol.
I considered the hand-me-downs. What to keep? What to give?
Co-sleeper or bassinet? Definitely co-sleeper.
Sling or Baby Bjorn? Baby Bjorn, hands down.
And I thought of names. Clare. James. Therese. John Paul. I tried them out as the next link in a chain, allowing each one to punctuate the litany of my other children's names.
Godparents? Oh, yes! I knew just who we'd ask!
And I considered the birth, the fatigue, the discomfort.
And I considered the joy, and I said my, "Yes."
And what I never considered was how arrogant it all was. For, in the past, each time we asked (and even when we didn't!), God said, "Here you go!" Straight from God. Just like that. Healthy, strong, smart, and beautiful. Three children. I'd like to have one more of those, please. Please, God.
Anticipation and eagerness grew within me, but that was all. I pled my case. My emotions were carried up, then down, then up again in response to my body's signals. And there came a time when, out of obedience, I realized that a cherished period of my life had come to an end. I was no longer the mother of babies, nor would I likely be again. This surprised me, because I had always, even as an engaged woman, seen in my mind's eye a gracefully mature woman, dark curls threaded with silver, holding the hand of a toddler. I would be a young mother and then I would get to be an older mother.
That's sort of what I thought.
What was odd, though, was that when that realization struck, that this was a "No" that I was called to obey, I understood that, though what I was asking for was indeed a very good thing, I was still coveting that which was not mine. I was looking to the future, what was next, that something more. And, while each child is a blessing beyond blessings, I was not entitled to or guaranteed what I wanted, no matter how good it was. And my longing for that which was not mine began to get in the way of caring for that which had already been entrusted to me. Drawing on what I had learned from Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer in The Gift of Faith, I saw that mammon had firmly entrenched itself between me and God. I was grabbing for something not in God's will for my life. And, until I detached myself from this longing, I wasn't free to do the tasks set before me. Ugh. Mammon. Even the word reeks of evil. I had no choice but to obey. In fact, I had no inclination but to obey.
And when the moment of obedience came, a quiet peace stilled me. I stopped looking elsewhere, forward, back, around, or beyond. I looked at what was right in front of me.
Raising the children we already have, loving them and educating them and walking beside them, is no less holy than having more children. It became clear that a veil had dropped from before my eyes, and I was better able to see the gifts I had been given already. Color appeared brighter once again, and I realized how dulled and narrow my vision had become. I suddenly had a laugh, a gentle touch, a bit of patience. I was no longer a woman denied, but a woman lavished. Each time I turned my head, or lifted my eyes from a task, I could see the graces around me that had been clouded.
Sweet, pudgy fingers rubbing my back.
Sticky candy-cane hugs.
Declarations of, "You're the best mom ever!"
And, "This is the best day ever!"
Perfect report cards.
Assists and blocks and scores.
Crayon drawings of "my famly."
Drum recitals that awe.
Christmas concerts full of charm and sparkling voices.
Piano lessons. The Christmas songs I'd always wanted to hear, played by my very own child.
Ballet. Again. How beautiful to relive my own beloved pastime through these petite toes.
"Will you read to me?"
"I made this for you."
Each day is filled with these endless gifts, and sometimes releasing the "Please" and embracing the "Thank You" is exactly what we need to see these treasures for what they are. So while I rejoice in the precious promise of each pregnancy as it is announced around me, I recall my own, ponder them in my heart, and then look at what those treasured times have yielded. My present is full of gifts, and for them all, I say, "Thank you, my Lord and my God."