We are walking LENT. Can you get some purple things up today in this season of preparation? Sound too daunting? It is a season you have time!
Last fall I was at a gathering of extended family when I had an interesting conversation with a particular family member, whom I had not seen since the move back to Virginia. As he was driving away in his truck, he kind of laughed and said, "So you gonna have anymore kids?"
That's actually NOT the interesting part because I get said question all the time.
I did my typical bubbly, "We'll see! We are so happy!" Smile.
And he chuckled again and said, "Well five, I would say you have done your duty."
There were so many goings on and all FIVE children to tend to that I don't remember at what point I said, "Bye!" but I have thought a little about his statement. I told you I am going to try and write more during LENT so that means these little nuggets come back to me! Lucky you ;)
First off, pat on back, such musings from random people do not get me all mopey and pouty anymore...now THERE is growth! It is as if I am spiritually only using one wobbly training wheel so that sometimes I get confident I'm riding a bike for REAL while still having great comfort that I always have that left rattling wheel to lean on....so that I don't biff....which I do at times.
But REALLY, I mean REALLY this whole blog was brought into existence because of the particular words of one young midwife who kept asking me about artificial contraception at my six week check up following the birth of my son (he is four now!). So, I can honestly say, it has been one big work of figuring out how to take in the words of others, particularly regarding life giving love decisions.
Now, by the grace of God in this journey, it actually takes A LOT to get under my skin when it comes to family size comments. Call it toughening up or maybe just being GRATEFUL for my littles, but I truly want my energy to be in lifting up and cheering on other mommies of ALL family sizes and not giving too much energy elsewhere.
So about a sense of duty, being a Navy brat and having served in the Coast Guard and now as the spouse of a Coast Guardsman, I guess I see the word duty as a commitment one feels a deep obligation to do.
I have never felt it was my duty to have five children, although I do feel as sense of duty in raising them. It is not a duty, it is a blessing...
It is an honor.
My intent is not to dissect comments, however they are meant, but to always ALWAYS in our heads put things into our own words.
No really! This is mental exercise time with Stephanie!
Put everything into your own words!
Novels are sprinkled with heroes and heroines who, maybe since youth, maybe in an abusive relationship, they always believed the words that other people have told them.
It is as if someone for a long time stood over you and said, "You're sick."
"No, I'm not sick."
And the they of the big them says, "No, really you're sick. Stay in bed."
If they say it enough and you don't learn to own words, you eventually really become....sick. I am thinking of the play The Imaginary Invalid, a little wonky at times, but wow, a great message.
So you get something like...
"You have done your duty!"
And in your mind you jumble up those words and make a new sentence and own it, "It is my joy to walk with these children and live this life."
YES. In the crunched cheerio under your slipper and in the child who peed himself by the toilet and then locked himself in the bathroom, it is yours to walk and ENJOY. No duty here, just children and holy beautiful mess.
And maybe if we mentally own words, we can get so familiar with them, they become who we are and we DO walk with joy. We become so familiar with them they don't stay up in our heads anymore, they become WITNESS.
I believe this wholeheartedly.
Your words will witness to others, but they will witness to you. You will even be able to GET AHEAD of the poor and sometimes demeaning word choices of others.
Get ahead? I have seen this first hand! I watched my new bestie Mary Clare do it!
I stopped being sulky one evening in early September about missing Juneau and decided to go to a homeschool moms Panera night...because some loneliness requires action, not by people coming to YOU but by you going to people. So I had my adult hot cocoa (aka mocha) and there was Mary Clare who had just moved here from Colorado! (I thought to myself...that is far away like Alaska!)
And she was asked how many children she had, to which she replied,
"We have been blessed with eight children."
INTERCEPTION!!!! (like football Super Bowl style)
I mean...I LOVED how she answered that simple question. Granted, she was not in a shark tank scenario, she was around the friendliest homeschooling Catholic mamas one could ask for, but still I was so impressed.
With her own words, she answered so MUCH.
We have been BLESSED with eight children.
It was with a smile and it was with finality and it was with her own words.
Mary Clare reminds me of these simple words from a Switchfoot song...
What you say...is your religion.
How you say it...is your religion.
I am not trying to pressure you, only share what I have realized, that our little ones are listening. Our spouse, our friends, our extended family, our neighbors...are listening to how we express our lives and our religion in our own words. I am struck with how I am even sharing my thoughts on a blog as a Catholic and this too reflects...my religion...and I pray for the Helper to continue to use this as a means for good.
God Bless You!