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?