I looked at the clock as my fussy four-year-old clung to my leg, crying about something new for the tenth time in the past ten minutes. My five young children had been crying, whining, screaming, or just plain fussing for the last eight hours straight.
Maybe they planned it. Maybe it was a grand conspiracy they had discussed amongst themselves after we tucked them into bed. “Listen, tomorrow you and I will cover the first four-hour shift, then after that, you guys take over.”
By five o’clock that evening, I was weary, irritable, frazzled, and stressed out from the sheer noise. I was angry at them for their selfish behaviors, and angry at myself for my utter failure to patiently guide them through their emotions.
Suddenly my anger melted into a profound sadness. Tears welled up in my eyes, and I tried for a moment to hide them so that my kids wouldn’t feel too guilty for driving me to this breaking point. Since, of course, that might ruin them forever. And silently, I cried. My four-year-old looked up, still clinging to my leg. “Mommy, there’s something wrong with your eye. It’s leaking!”
Before I became a mom, I had no idea how hard it would be. I dreamed of cuddling up with my nurslings and having happy family dinners. In reality, the baby is colicky, the toddler is having a melt-down, the middle child always spills his drink, the older kids just know how to push each other’s buttons. I’m lacking sleep and sanity.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that the sower throws his seeds lavishly upon various grounds: dry, thorny, or fertile soil. I had never really noticed that the whole point of the parable is to participate with God in creating something beautiful. The Word humbly comes down as a tiny seed and desires to root himself deeply in my heart—not for his own sake, but to create with him a great work, a magnum opus. He says, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you to go and bear fruit that will remain” (Jn 15:16).
Becoming fertile soil isn’t easy. The ground must be poked and prodded, but it’s all a part of the way a seed transforms into something magnificent, something of great beauty—a true masterpiece.
As I was reading Charlotte’s Web with my children, I felt the Lord remind me just how magnificent is motherhood, even in the midst of all its frustrations.
“What is that nifty little thing? . . . Is it a plaything?” asked Wilbur.
“Plaything? I should say not. It’s my egg sac, my magnum opus.”
“I don’t know what a magnum opus is,” said Wilbur.
“That’s Latin,” explained Charlotte. “It means ‘a great work.’ This egg sac is my great work—it’s the finest thing I have ever made.”
And as I looked over at my children’s sleepy, sun-kissed faces, a tear rolled down my cheek. Yes, Lord, they are my masterpiece. They are the finest thing I have ever made.