It’s my birthday today. I have a pretty full day planned. First, I’m going to wake up earlier than I’d like with the baby. Then, I will make breakfast for everyone. I’ll help children dress and make an attempt at looking presentable myself. My day will continue on with Thanksgiving preparations, and I will tend to the needs of four other human beings. Later on, I’ll bake a cake, and the day will be over. Sounds great, right?
Actually, it is great. Motherhood always gives me the best gifts. This year, as always, motherhood is giving me the gift of my own insignificance. Despite the fact that it is my birthday, the world will keep turning. I will not have the day off. My three-year-old may still earn a timeout, and the baby will still need to nurse. Oh, my children will be thrilled that we are eating cake, and they will spend a few minutes trying to wrap their head around the idea of “mom as a baby,” but that’s all. Soon, they will be far more interested in me reading them a book than in celebrating me in any way.
And, it’s all for the best, all for my sanctification.
Pope Saint John Paul the Great said that we can only truly love through a complete gift of self. My vocation trains me in the way of true love.
Today, again, I am invited to let a little more of myself go, to let a little more of me die as I seek to have Christ live more fully in me. Celebrating birthdays is wonderful, but the most important gift today is the continued gift of myself to others. This letting go of self is not an easy process. Sometimes I would like a day off or even just an uninterrupted trip to the restroom, whether it’s for my birthday or not. Thankfully, on the days when I am less willing to give of myself, I can receive. I am the recipient of many gifts that are available year-round—the light in my infant son’s eyes when he sees me walk into the room, when only “mommy” is enough to comfort my daughter, and the thousands of times I am privileged to hear “I love you, Mom.”
So yes, my birthday will look much like any other day as a mom—full of opportunities to give and receive, emptying myself out from a continuous filling and re-filling. In fact, this may be my best birthday yet.