Family, Intentionality, Motherhood, Personal Reflection

The Waiting

The scent of warm pear bread – cinnamon and sweetness – hangs in the air of my kitchen. There are dishes to wash and a floor to sweep but they can wait. There is a to-do list beside this computer, its uncrossed items lifting off the page to remind me there is still much to be done. However, much can wait. Even as I assess whether these are real contractions I’m experiencing or simply more Braxton Hicks after a long, tiring day, I am pulled toward quiet thoughts. There simply haven’t been enough of them lately. They are stolen, pushed aside, stepped over, or buried under heaps of mental activity. They wait. They wait for me.

Do yours do likewise? Are the edges of your mind lined with subtle, patient, quiet thoughts? Wallflowers in the spinning ballroom of your head. Do they wait for you to sit out a dance?

Mine wait. Patiently, perseveringly, but not permanently. Eventually, they do go. They slip regretfully out the door like the party guest who will not intrude upon others’ conversations but could’ve been the highlight of the evening if anyone had taken a moment to look them in the eye and invite them into their circle.

During weeks of tiredness, my body longing for sleep by seven p.m yet not finding it until much later and then only intermittently, my brain is aching for energy. I get caught up in despondent reflections of ‘I used to write,’ and ‘I used to teach,’ and so on. Not that they last long. They are overrun by the joy I have at what my life has become. Wife, stepmother, and now mother. I feel my child turn over inside me and I imagine holding him in my arms. How can such regrets withstand it? The negativity is polished away by my blessed reality and what remains is only the root of the regrets. That I do still long to be a writer, a teacher, a thinker! That those should be woven into marriage and motherhood for as many days as I’m given. It’s the figuring out how that is the challenge. Challenge does not equal impossibility though. In fact, a challenge must be possible to achieve or it is merely nonsense and nothing else.

Yes, this is a genuine challenge. One that I will take up each day – sometimes setting it back down after only a moment and a sigh, certainly, but other times engaging it with strength and wit and success. It’s my belief that the engagement must begin with quiet thoughts: the ones waiting on me, eager but calm, ready to pull me deeper into truth, beauty, and holiness. Anything good must begin there.

Family, Motherhood, Personal Reflection, Writing

On The Way

“What is on the way?” you may be wondering. A baby! Well on his way, actually! A few months into our marriage, Matt and I were thrilled to discover we were expecting a child. Timothy Michael is due October 4th and I’m having trouble believing how quickly that day is approaching. I can hardly wait to hold my son in my arms. To touch his skin, hear his voice, stroke his hair, kiss his nose. He is in constant motion lately, a thrilling sensation of flips and kicks and stretches.

I’ve had a healthy, ordinary-in-the-best-way pregnancy. Predictable symptoms, expected progressions, and no scares. About the biggest complaints as this third trimester gets underway are hatred for humidity and a longing to be able to sleep on my back once in a while. And a wistful pining for a chilled glass of moscato, I suppose.

In the 10 months since I became a wife, I have frequently thought about getting back to blogging. Of course, it was usually a passing thought in between “what should I make for dinner” and “maybe I can get these last boxes unpacked this week.” (They’re still not unpacked.) Then came pregnancy and instead of there being one or two things I could more sensibly do instead of blogging, there were three or four or more.

Oh, silly me. Falling into that age old trap of practically every writer who ever lived. There are always things to do instead of write! Always! My first book didn’t get written because I had nothing else to do. It was written because I chose to write it. All my prior blog posts weren’t written out of boredom. They were written because I needed to transfer the words from my brain to the world.

So, I hope you’ve missed me. I’m back. Giant belly blocking the keyboard and all.

Motherhood, Pro Life

The Desire & the Decision

I’ve never held a dear desire to have children. Making that statement inclines me to hide my face for a moment. I’m well aware that it doesn’t fit. It has long felt like something ‘wrong’ in me. I’m Catholic, wholly pro-life and pro-family. I don’t believe in the use of contraception of any sort and I celebrate the beautiful gift that is our cooperation with God in creating His most precious creatures – human beings. I hold children to be among the greatest gifts bestowed by God, never burdens and never unwelcome. I am the youngest of 7 children and those siblings… well, there’s little I wouldn’t do for them. When friends or family members announce pregnancies or introduce me to their new little ones, I rejoice with them. I relish the tender snuggles and vivacious antics of my 11 nieces and nephews. I mourn with those close to me who have lost a child or struggle to conceive. I love children. And yet…

For years I’ve been aware of my lack of desire to be a parent. It hangs about in my mind in disconcerting contrast with most of my peers. It leaves me wriggling uncomfortably under the expectations that are voiced by those who know me. I feel a bit ashamed of myself as I hear the hopeful remarks of others, longing for the day they will have children of their own and eager to embark on that journey. Meanwhile, I have longed for marriage, praying for God to prepare me for that vocation and prepare my spouse in the years before I would even meet him. But children… I’ve wanted to want them. That’s not the same though, is it?

There have been stages to my self-assessment in this regard. First, I wrote it off as nothing to be troubled over. “I’m sure eventually God will put that desire in me.” “When I meet the right man then I’ll begin to long to have children with my spouse.” “Of course I want a family. There’s no reason to be impatient or desperate about it.” More recently I moved into a state of worry as I admitted the fears I hold about being a parent. I worried that deep down I do have a strong desire to be a parent but I’m too scared to acknowledge it. How can I possibly be capable of raising children? This world is so full of influences and events that will inevitably undermine my efforts. Families are too capapble of hurting each other. There’s so much pain and disappointment involved. The fears piled up and I wondered how I’d ever admit to my spouse how afraid I am of having children.

Then I met Matt. No, he has not ushered in an era of longing for motherhood. Our attachment to each other didn’t act as a magic wand casting a spell on the parental part of my heart. What Matt did bring was his son. Matt brought reality to me in the form of his six year old, tow headed, rambunctious, eager to please, says-the-darndest-things son. Matt invited me into his life, at the heart of which is his son. I stepped hesitantly inside and took a look around. There was plenty to see, even if I kept to the wall. What I saw was parenthood. The daily choice to put another person first, a person entirely dependent on you for his well-being. This fundamental decision of parenthood, to love and do so unrelentingly captivated me. I saw a man who was shaped by his fatherhood, who was on the path he was on because he was a father. I knew this wasn’t how it had to be, wasn’t the ideal or the convenient or the easy or the carefree way. Yet it was what he chose day in and day out.

It was startling. And like nothing that came before, it took hold of me. Essentially, Matt gave me a new lens. I have long seen the beauty and goodness of children but now I began seeing the beauty and goodness of parenthood itself. In all its struggles and sacrifices, joys and encouragements, unknowns and questions, it is good. I don’t know how I missed it before, or not missed it so much as left it uncomprehended.