Taking a Breather

Whew. I am working on the next “Cozy Catholic CCD” post, and it. is. wearing. me. out.

There are some big, deep, beautiful ideas in this here Church, but it takes some serious energy to condense them sensibly into ordinary language without watering them down too much. Send up some prayers for energy and perseverance for me, guys. I’m still early in this blogging game, and I want to have some meaty content that hopefully will inform and inspire… but I don’t think the devil likes it.

So I’ll keep plugging, but let’s take a little break today.

Want to hear about my delightful little boy? OF COURSE YOU DO, HE’S DELIGHTFUL!

This is Alex. (Well, this is an old picture of Alex.)

DSC_1622

Ahhhhh, sweet baby eating Mama’s spinach and goat cheese pizza. Alex loves eating all food, any food, especially YOUR food, right now, please. Now, please. NOW, PLEASE! Thank you.

Alex these days is 17 months old.

He only started walking about a month ago, so he’s still a little unsteady. He prefers to hold your hand while he walks, but not because he needs the support–just because he wants you to come along.

This morning when I dropped him off at the sitter’s house to go to work, he waved (as usual) and pronounced distinctly (for the first time), “Bye bye,” and I almost lost it. I hate leaving him… most mornings. (Let’s be honest, some mornings’ diapers make it a little easier to put someone else in charge for a few hours.)

Alex is growing up in our family, which means he is doomed to certain nerddom.

DSC_1690

See? It’s inevitable.

But don’t make fun of him–

DSC_1710

He won’t like it.

Advertisements

The Radical Notion that Children are People

Have you seen this article? It’s about a woman in Australia, Jayne Cornwill, who, after having three sons, travelled to the United States and paid $50,000 to guarantee that her next baby would be a girl through sex-selective in-vitro fertilization.

Now, there are a lot of sad and scary things in that story. Simcha Fischer did a really great job addressing them last week.  First, I hope Ms. Cornwill’s sons don’t know how disappointed she was in them; especially her third son, whom she considered aborting after finding out he was male. For another thing,  there is the tragic loss of the tiny babies that were discarded as medical waste during the selective IVF process. And frankly, I don’t even understand how this woman gets through the day since her happiness seems to depend so much on things going according to her own plan—my  own plans rarely last more than ten minutes before falling apart.

But today Dwija over at House Unseen wrote this fantastic little post about how our children are not about US all the time, and I wish I could send it to this poor woman. Dweeja is right: children are people, too! They are individuals, fully as human and important as we are, and they do not exist solely for the sake of their parents. They are not just our little helpers, they are not only our little mini-me brigade, and even when they ARE doing us good and teaching us how to be better people, that is not the whole “why” of their existence.

As Dwija put it, “After all these years it has finally occurred to me that God gave these kids to each other as siblings just as much as he gave them to me as children.  I am for them as their primary educator and caregiver, sure.  But they are not always for me.  Sometimes they are for each other.  Sometimes they are for their friends.  Sometimes what’s happening is a growth in their relationship with God.”

She’s right.

We parents are entrusted with raising and teaching our children, but ultimately, we are only their stewards. They exist with their own inherent goodness, and their roles in the world will be much grander and more complicated than we can foresee. They are their own persons, even when they are “our” children. We do not get to fence them in, to make them all about us–and we do not get to decide on their identities or their personalities.

Jayne Cornwill seems to believe that children are just another commodity that can be chosen off a shelf—do I want the blue one or the pink one? The tall one or the short one?—instead of precious individuals, to whom God has given an identity and a destiny all their own.

This is one of the most troubling aspects of language like “reproductive freedom” and “choice”—because the truth is, we DON’T really have a choice in who our children are. They are not supposed to be “just what I wanted!” Their dignity as people doesn’t depend on our wants or hopes or dreams. We can help mold them and care for them and teach them good habits, but a lot of their identity is just who they ARE—the personality and temperament that God gave them. We do not get a vote. We do not get a choice.

The choice we do have, is simply to accept our children for who they are, and to love them as hard as we can.

Miracles of Motherhood

As every baby book will tell you, parenting is full of miracles. Sure, there are the sweet, gooey, “my baby gazed into my eyes and I caught a glimpse of Divine Love,” kind of moments, but also some more mysterious episodes full of fear and trembling. I myself have witnessed all of the following events, and I can offer no other explanation than Divine intervention.

First miracle: time shifts. I’m convinced that time literally disappears whenever I try to get my son out the door. Perhaps I’m in an ecstatic state–but more likely it’s a miraculous rift in the space-time continuum. There’s no other explanation for how 20  minutes slip by when all I’m trying to do is put a pair of shoes on two tiny feet.

Second miracle: Bilocation, which is the phenomenon where a person is miraculously located in two distinct places at one time. You may think this is rare, but I’m convinced all toddlers can do it. That’s why it takes the full efforts of both me and my husband in order to get anything done while watching the kid, and why our house gets messy so fast–our son is likely playing with measuring cups on the kitchen floor AND knocking blocks over in the nursery at the same time.

Finally: Superhuman strength. How, how, HOW is it possible for the contents of a diaper–thick, putty-like contents, no less!–to be shot out so forcefully that it escapes the elastic waist of the diaper and smears a full six-inches up baby’s clean, freshly-bathed (of course!) back? It’s incomprehensible. And of course, the clean-up process also involved another time shift miracle–which made me quite late to work.