Would you change a thing?

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Just as I bowed my head today at mass, to honor and reflect upon the bread becoming Jesus’ body, my three year-old, who was gathered up in my arms and perched on my knee, looked up and kissed me.  My first reaction was that she was distracted at a solemn time.  Then I realized, remembered that she’s all about love.  Jesus became the bread, a sacrifice, gave His life, out of love for us.  Or at the very least, for His father, God.

Did I receive that kiss upon my nose at that very moment to teach me that I, as a mother, must lose myself to them out of love or in love?  That is my sacrifice since Jesus gave his life for us, I must give mine for them?

But, though I am a stay-at-home mom and mothering is a vocation, is not my husband called to the vocation of fathering?  He is not asked to give up his life.  Or is not having the struggles I am.

Or is the kiss a reminder to surrender myself to a life of love?

To serve others and fulfill God’s will by helping them – and through helping God, receiving all I need through Him?

Happiness?  Fulfillment?  Peace?  Well-being?

Am I being selfish balking at the idea of giving my life over to my children?  Or does God want me to preserve some parts of it for me?  Why would he have made me how I am if not for me to find some pleasure in it?  Parts of me must have been made with successful mothering in mind, but there are other parts I get to develop for me, right?  But then, it’s still for others, right?  Which then, isn’t it all for God?

I do need to stop thinking of my children as burdens, though.  I can be of service to them just as I can to others.  I need to see the needs right under my  nose and not take them for granted.


 

The above reflection is taken from a piece I wrote in February 2013.  Maybe it’s because I was/am an only child that I find it hard to relinquish my individual needs for the collective.  For me, the jury is still out as to whether self-care is a right or a privilege.  Where does self-care end and selfishness begin?  Are modern societal mores at odds with Christian teachings?  And I was worried about breastfeeding!  I always feel a certain sense of guilt when I see memes like the one at the top of this post.  But should mothering negate personal desire?

The Perils of NFP

I awoke this morning with a thermometer in my eye.  My two and a half year-old, having recently mastered the art of crib climbing (as in, out of), came stealthily to my bedside and announced her presence by handing me my thermometer, point-first, in the eye.

“Thank you, honey,” I murmured as I deftly plucked it out of her little hand and out of range of my eye.

Rousing myself to face any day is hard enough – exhaustion keeping me down, thoughts of the daily grind keeping me from getting up.  A poke in the eye by a metal-tipped prod adds injury to the insult.

Every morning for more than a decade, I’ve taken my temperature before rising, marking it down on a chart as part of the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning.  I’ve also noted other symptoms of my cycle, such as the start and duration of my period, any pain, etc.  For the most part, it’s been no problem.  For all the reasons that matter, I’m glad my husband and I have chosen this method to order the reproductive part of our lives.

Then there is the drawer of my bedside table, spewing charts from months past, always a pen, the thermometer.  One more thing to add to my morning routine – the taking of the temperature; and one more thing to do before bed – recording the temperature (because I usually don’t have – or take – the time to do it in the morning).

And the restraint it takes to successfully practice Natural Family Planning.  There are certain days in my cycle that we must abstain from sex if we wish to postpone or prevent pregnancy.  Then, there are days when it ‘might’ be safe.  That’s when the third ring of our circus (see last post) found her way into the world.  My husband may never get lucky during that range of days again!  Unless I/we decide to throw caution to the wind.

But, then, that’s the point of Natural Family Planning – and perhaps what makes it hardest for even the most God-fearing humans to practice.  Relinquishing control.

I may not have been ready for a baby at that time, and yet, I cannot imagine my life without her love in it.  And the personal struggles that I dealt with during my pregnancy and postpartum with her, have wrought changes in me that never would have happened had I waited until a time I deemed the right one.  The self-control and mutual respect that my husband and I had at the start of our marriage have blossomed into a stronger partnership as we follow this method.

With the ebb and flow of my body’s natural cycles, God has a chance to interject His will into our usually tightly structured plans.  There certainly is no peril in that.

Me getting over my control-freak tendencies – and avoiding blinding by impalement – that’s another story.  At least I can find a new spot for my thermometer – because I’m thinking the crib climbing is just the beginning.

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