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.
My fifth-born entered the world yesterday, and the poignant truth of the Gospel floods in again. I remember the beginning. 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 am again, because this love-story etching a path right through my heart never grows old. How could life come right through me and, now, I sit holding this perfect, little creature I get to call mine? I awake this morning, like I did so many years ago, 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 Father’s Day weekend―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 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 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 a bit and forget to breathe. This 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 just well 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 when I’ve nowhere else to go for a bit of peace. There will be unwieldy words exchanged that need the grace of forgiveness to unravel into a redeemed cord of family unity. 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 has called me to motherhood that my soul might breathe and exchange more of his cross-to-resurrection reality. With every new step, 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 my vulnerable state of postpartum recovery, I melt a bit over the truth that salvation came by way of the Holy Family. And this is his way in me. In my domestic church, his breath will bring life and salvation today and into eternity.