When I had my first child it was as if my world stopped . . . my arms were full, and I spent days on end in a baby-moon gazing at my infant-boy within the walls of our tiny Dallas apartment. I had the innate sense that this helpless, perfect darling was my highest priority.
Only a few years before, I had crossed whole oceans as a missionary with the passionate dream of being a Good Samaritan; my strongest desire was to serve up healing love to hurting, marginalized souls. I wanted to be like Jesus.
After our second and then third child, family life became all-consuming. It was a day when my third-born was toddling at my feet that I remember clearly standing at the kitchen sink; my mind drifted and I couldn’t help wondering if my purpose had been put on pause. I recalled the time I had smuggled holy Bibles into communist China and led worship songs in a second language.
I had no plans of mission or charity work in the near future. I could hardly seem to find time to check in on my elderly neighbor. I had to admit my personal goals of higher education, working out, or even finding time to shop for my favorite makeup were all on the back-burner.
I shifted and looked down at my son’s round cheeks marked on either side with peanut butter and honey. His milk had spilled; he needed a diaper change and a dry shirt before leaving for carpool. He reached out in all his chubby need.
My eyes filled with tears as the Holy Spirit gently pressed me; my motherhood was not an interruption. It was not something I was doing on my way to something more successful, something holier. Holy purpose was here.
Motherhood may often look like “less” from the outside . . . it may often look “ordinary” . . . but, if my heart is willing to be imbued with love, with pity, with mercy, for my little neighbors, for my children, then I have the opportunity of living the highest purpose of Christ’s call.
God ordained Jesus to use ordinary means (oil, wine, self-gift) to bring anointed healing and pour out the new wine of Eucharistic love. So, too, has God patterned motherhood; from the dawn of humanity it remains integral in its power of merciful love by ordinary means.