Wednesday, December 22, 2010

When I Stopped Saying "Please" and Started Saying "Thank You"

I have three dear little souls entrusted to me, and I always felt that God used those early years of motherhood to show me who I truly was.   Those things that threw me for a loop before motherhood, well, with a babe on my hip, I could suddenly manage them.   The problem was,  I understood motherhood quite narrowly:  I defined it as being a mother to a baby, or at least a toddler.   I wanted that period of life to go on forever, and so, as the children grew up a little and all were preschool age or older, it seemed it was time.  Excited, and more ready than not,  I began to think anew of newborn stuff.

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."


  1. Jeannine,

    This is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  2. Dear Sarah~

    Thank you for your kind comment. I have visited your beautiful blog. I was thrilled to see the gluten-free recipes. Despite the suggestion of the recipe above, I do not eat wheat, and can't wait to try some of your recipes!


  3. Jeannine, I relate to so much of what you are saying. There have been times when I have yearned so much to have more and I have failed to see what is right in front of me. After my son died, I remember complaining about what I didn't have and I 'heard' a voice saying, "But look at all you DO have!" I learnt very early that children are a gift given and aren't ours as a right. However, I have still wasted much time and energy not living in the present moment being satisfied with what God has chosen to give me.

    I enjoy your posts so much Jeannine. They are so well written and thought provoking. God bless.

  4. Thank you for this. It is just what I needed to hear.

  5. Dear Sue~
    My heart is so heavy to hear of what you've been through. I'm sure I could learn so much from you, and it is humbling that you would find that my words speak to you. God bless you.
    Grace and peace...

    Dear Carol~
    Thank you for reading. I am very thankful that these words were of some comfort to you.
    Grace and peace...