In those final pushes, my midwife looks me square in the eyes and says, “Don’t forget to breathe!” Yes, yes . . . breathe in his life that I might give his life to the world. I may not feel like I have it in me, but that is because it is him in me, him coming through me. God is enough.
When my fifth-born entered the world, and the poignant truth of the Gospel flooded in again, I remember the beginning clearly. I still drill the first-born with a line-familiar. For years now I have been saying, “You changed my whole life.” It’s true. The conversion was Gospel-real on his birth-day―a full show of cross and resurrection wrapped up in one delivery room. The final moments of the day had me in a Holy Spirit high. Here I was again because this love-story etching a path right through my heart never grows old. How could life come right through me, and then I sit holding this perfect, little creature I get to call mine? Then I awake that next morning and inhale a mingled cocktail of my hopes and fears as the tiring give-a-thon begins.
I was a whopping twenty-two years old when we conceived our first child. My husband had wanted to get a pregnancy test on that weekend of Father’s Day―he was ready to celebrate. I was hesitant with fear. Just months before I had uncovered more of the fragile story of my own journey into the world and the circumstances my mother bravely faced in choosing life. I was being healed through our sacramental marriage, but the idea of knowing just how to feel like enough―of how to be a qualified mother—made my heart palpitate with deep insecurity.
As the two pink lines on the pregnancy test appeared in full bright scale that Father’s Day weekend, I wish someone could have told me this: motherhood is not about me being enough, but about being called and breathing in the truth of his continuous love―the love of our Abba Father.
Pushing five wailing babies out has taught me this: I am not a saint, yet. I am still learning to breathe in the truth. The oldest of the brood know it full well. I can hyperventilate and forget to breathe. Each new season will undoubtedly bring more grit, reality, and messes than even perhaps before.
Undoubtedly, there will be dinners that barely make it to the table before bedtime closes in. This voice of mine might rise over chores to be done. Laundry, homework, and lost flip-flop debates will ring to the rafters. The house may not ever feel big enough for thick tensions that rise with juvenile outbursts and proud preferences. No one will be able to find the paint to cover the marks in the hallway from the running of free-spirited boys. I cannot promise you that I will not hide in my room and cry for a bit of peace when I’ve nowhere else to go. There will be unwieldy words exchanged that need the grace of forgiveness. We will all have to let our hard hearts be tenderized by each other’s hard-edged humanity being worn thin. We will need his breath to renew and revive time and time again as sure as oxygen.
God had called me to motherhood that my soul might breathe and exchange more of his cross-to-resurrection reality. With every new season, he is calling me to life in him. I don’t have to have enough or be enough―it is his living breath in me that allows the flourishing of life. In that vulnerable state of first trimester hormones, I melted a bit over the truth that salvation came by way of the holy family. And once more this is his way in me. In my domestic church, his breath will bring life and salvation.
Jolly, thank you for beautiful reflection. I just read something very similar in a book by Abigail Rine Favale, Into the Deep: An Unlikely Catholic Conversion. In her chapter called “Motherhood,” Favale offers her beautiful description of her first child literally “changing her whole life.” For Favale also, “The conversion was Gospel-real on his birth-day―a full show of cross and resurrection wrapped up in one delivery room.” Let me know if you are familiar with her book.
|Sweet, lovely Jolly – this was just so beautiful that I will have to share with my friends! What an incredible gift of having the ability to so lovingly and clearly describe this. Touched my heart as I read your words; my brain and heart actually able to hear your voice. This MIHC movement is truly a God Send inspired with the Trinitarian Love and Peace Jesus Christ offers us in the Bible and at Mass every day. God bless you, Katharyn, Annie, Patricia and Kim for the messages the five of you live.
Hope you are feeling well and that your family is well.