Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Life is Sacred

I had a very busy writing day today.  Yay for writing!  But, it wasn’t a new piece for here, so I’m recycling this speech (which I revised a tad) for today’s post.  It’s a speech I gave in 2005 at our Church’s annual baby shower where parishoners generously donated all sorts of baby items and support for a crisis pregnancy center. 

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Welcome to the annual baby shower.  It’s an honor to be invited back to speak to you 3 years in a row.  

For those of you who don’t know me, I am a 'retired' elementary school teacher, mother to 3 young children and wife to a super husband.  I am very busy raising my kids, keeping a happy house, and volunteering with the Respect Life group while balancing play dates, the checkbook and a baby on one hip. 

My husband and I settled here 3 years ago with one child and with the dreams of raising our little family in a quiet community.  I have always been quick to find friends, but our move here had me doubting my social abilities.  I started withdrawing from even trying to make friends in our new town.  That’s because I started to resent our move.  It was the second move we had in one year—the first one taking me from the place I wanted to call home.  I went so far as to blame my husband for taking me from my routine, the shopping malls and old friends.  

Once we settled in, I kept asking, “We’re just staying here for 5-10 years, right?”  

5-10. 

It sounded like a prison sentence to me.  I started to act like it was. 

My continuous pity party was beginning to drive a stake in my marriage, in my ability to be a good mom, and in my attempts to make friends.  I didn’t want to give all of me to anyone since I felt like I was being punished.  No wonder I didn’t make too many friends in the beginning.  Who would ever want to be a friend with a perpetual gloomy Gus?  

Late in the spring last year, while expecting our third child in 3 short years, I tried to put myself in my mother’s shoes.  She, too, was a young mom to three babies under the age of three.  She also moved several times in a short amount of time with those three babies.  But despite that, Mom had the strength of a bull.  It’s a quiet one, never drawing undue attention, but a bull ready to fight for herself and for her family.  I began to reflect on my Mom’s experiences and drew on her strength. 

As I reflected, I remembered something else—at one point, Mom realized that she couldn’t do it all.  She realized couldn’t do it all alone.  Then she realized she wasn’t supposed to. 
My Mom asked God for help.  She felt so foolish for forgetting that He was there all along ready to help her.  

God was able to guide her through the long days, weeks and months while my father worked long hours and sometimes far away.  

God was able to comfort her through illnesses, interrupted routines and endless diaper changes too (cloth ones no less!).  

God was also the One who reminded Mom that her free will was a gift.  It could bring her joy and friendship.  It could calm a harried situation, and it could bring happiness to another human being as well.  My Mom found herself searching for something else during this time—friends who had similar beliefs as she did.  Once I let go of some of the negative feelings I was harboring, I realized that I also yearned for faith-filled friends too.

I had to do something first before I even thought about making friends:  I had to change my attitude. 

I became proactive and joined our young mom’s group.  I socialized with them in their homes and bring my children to play with their children at the park.  I joined the Respect Life group and also went back to teaching—this time teaching teenagers at Sunday School!  

During this time, especially during the time when I prepared lessons for the teenagers, I began to grow spiritually.  What a joy that was to feel my faith grow.

In a few short months, I began to enjoy my community.  I met more local people.  I attended more social events.  I eventually learned the back roads and can get across town avoiding traffic in just about 20 minutes!  

I don’t have many pity parties anymore, because instead of being negative, I fill my time with meaningful activities and with friends who encourage me to do the best that I can in everything that I do.  When I tell my Mom about the people I know now and about the things I get to do here, I know my Mom is proud of me.  She knew I’d get rid of my perpetual funk so that I can better serve my family and others. 

I know a lot of kids don’t appreciate their parents’ input all of the time.  But as an adult, I cherish the conversations I have with my parents.  They continue to teach me and to guide me.  I constantly think about what they taught me and how I can use their wisdom to teach my own children.

When I was a child, I was taught to do right, to do my best and then do better, to put others before myself and to thank God more than just on Sundays at Church.  When people put others before themselves, and always with God in mine, it leads to respect.  Respect starts at home.  Respect for life starts at home too and grows when young children, included those children whose lives began as an unplanned pregnancy, are valued.  

All too often I hear people ask me, “Gee, Cathy, how do you do it? Your husband travels, you don’t have any family around, your kids are so young…and so close in age!  Don’t you miss the things you used to get to do?”  The next statement always makes me cringe, and so many people say it, “You have 3 kids that young?!  And…you want more?!”  My children are a blessing, never a burden.  These beautiful little people parading around my knees, tugging at my shirt, leaving puke, boogies and who knows what else on my clothes, who keep me awake at night, who demand me, me and more of me are the perfect examples of respect.  I would do anything to make sure that they are happy, healthy, cared for, loved, cuddled, kissed and more!  

When teaching, I would ask my students what they wanted to be when they grew up.  While working with an exceptionally bright group of 4th graders, I shared my dream of growing up.  They laughed and said, “Mrs. Jameson, you ARE a grown up.”  I quickly reminded them that I was just a big kid in a grown up’s body.  

I told those 10 year olds that I had wanted to be a Mom for a long time.  Many of the kids started to smile, some were nodding their heads in approval, and a few said, “Wow, you’d be a good Mom.”  I’m only in this motherhood thing a little over 3 years now, and boy, have I learned a lot.  My little girl is all princess—pink, pink, pink everywhere.  My older son has some serious special needs that are still a mystery, even after a very grueling day yesterday with the doctors.  My baby thinks I am the most wonderful Mom ever created!  He wants me to hold him, to nurse him, to play with him, to kiss him and to love him all day long.  Little does he know that I do have flaws, he just hasn’t figured them out yet.

One of those flaws showed up a few weeks ago.  I dwelled on a feeling of doubt which turned to anger.  I started to question God after my husband’s job got more demanding. 

Why me?  

Why do I have to have 3 demanding little kids?  

Why is my little girl so headstrong?  

Why is my little boy delayed in his walking, talking, eating and thinking skills?  

Why is my baby sometimes so needy?

I actually yelled at God after a friend said that I should be thankful for my children—remember, they’re gifts, ya know!  Oh, I thanked God all right.  I said with my teeth gritted and with my eyes full of anger, “Thank you God for my husband who travels every week, for the kids he doesn’t get to see, for my little girl and her sassy tongue, for my little boy who can’t walk, for my baby who keeps spitting up on me.”  

Oh, I prayed alright.  

Then I waited for that lightning to strike me down.  

When I stopped glaring, when I lowered my angry eyes and as I wiped away my tears away, I got on my knees and called for my children.  I reached for them and hugged each little person of mine with open arms.  In between tears, I also thanked God.  I thanked God for my children and for the very full life they've given me.

I have lived my dream of being a Mom.  I’m in it right now!  I hope for many more years of motherhood.  Of course lots of you know that being a Mom is not a piece of cake or bowl of cherries and we never get to eat bonbons on the couch!  This role comes with many duties not in anyone else’s job description.  Who knew that you could cry at the sight of your child getting stitches?  Whoever told you that some children’s washable paint is not entirely washable?  Who decided not to tell you that leak-proof diapers do leak, and oopsie, they can leak on your new carpet?  I applaud you veteran Moms out there for not sharing all those secrets with me.  I bet some of your daughters and sons think having children is a piece of cake and a bowl of cherries, and oh, there they are sitting on the couch with their bonbons while their baby sleeps through the night!

We have come together again this year to promote the tiniest gifts.  Isn’t this why we have gathered again, as Christian sisters—to share with our extended community the value of life?  Think of how many onesies, bath towels, little girl dresses, handsome boy’s shirts, warm blankets and snuggle toys you brought here today.  These items are ready to be received in the arms of a young mother.  This woman may have been unsure of her decision to keep, to care for and to raise her baby who is a beautiful gift from God.  I pray that your generosity and that your love remind this young mother that she chose well.  Her choice will may go without notice to others, but the simple reward of the life of that new baby will last her lifetime, her baby’s lifetime and through many generations we may never know.

Thank you.  (March 10, 2005)

xo, Cat





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