Friday, June 7, 2013

Motherhood

After almost 11 years of a failed marriage, no children, and only one real pregnancy scare in all of that time, it is probable that I will not have biological children, which makes Mother's Day a difficult day for me.  Every other day of the year, I'm at peace with the fact that I will probably never birth a baby of my own, but it is difficult on that one day....it is a day of mourning for me, and the emptiness of my arms take on a weight that I only feel in the celebration of mothers everywhere.  In fact, for the last 3-4 years, I have sought to avoid as much of the hubbub as possible by going to Mass during the Saturday vigil, and before my divorce, skipping my ex's church altogether.  Before I was Catholic, I would feign sickness to keep from the church service that day.

It was probably my third year of marriage when I realized that natural born children probably weren't in my future (we were never checked, so I can't be 100% certain. still...).  I have always felt strongly that, if you are pro-life, you should also be pro-adoption: infertility wasn't ever as big of a deal as it could have been, because I always knew that, if natural born children didn't come, I would eventually adopt.  It was probably about the time that we had to give up fostering children because of financial difficulties that things went from resigned to my fate to really difficult again.  At this point, I realized that I couldn't both be the primary/only bread-winner and a stay-at-home mom, and that I crave traditional gender roles in marriage. I also realized that the odds of my ex and I ever being financially stable enough to afford adoption were nil, and all of a sudden, being infertile became a VERY BIG DEAL. 

Now that I am divorced, I am surprised that physical motherhood is still something that I hope for.  I shouldn't be, since a divorce doesn't change what the desires of my heart are (See Ps. 37--Only God can do that as I delight myself in Him.). It just changes the possible avenues for fulfilling those desires while it closes others completely (maybe talking about that will be another post for another day--some avenues are open but unacceptable as well...Practicing Catholic Christian and all that ;-D ). 

Anyone who has ever lived in an area that is mostly Hispanic has heard adults call their children "Mamasita" or "Papasito"  (Spanish for little mother or little father).  I always found it kind of weird to call a two year old a little mother, but chalked it up to a cultural difference.  One day, when I was really struggling with the lack of pattering feet in my life, a friend of mine explained it to me.  She said that, as a culture, they believe that every girl is "born with the heart of our Blessed Mother." The idea is that, because we love Jesus, we have Mary's heart within us (It can be argued that she loved Him more than anyone else in this world.). That makes sense to me. I think it also might point to the potential for parenthood that is present in calling a little girl a mamasita or a little boy a papasito--it is a very rare little girl indeed that doesn't dream of holding a little baby of her own.   

The reality is that all of us are called to participate in God's creativity in the context of our relationships through "the true gift of self".  We are all called to be mothers and fathers, either physically through birth or adoption, or spiritually.  Blessed John Paul II said as much in his encyclical, Mulieris Dignitatem, as he sits there and talks about the dignity and vocation of women....his argument is that, by the nature of who we are as men and women, we are called to parenthood, and we then live that out through our vocation--if we are single, we become parents spiritually, and if we are married...well, you get the picture.  Here is a quote from the above...

The moral and spiritual strength of a woman is joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human being to her in a special way. Of course, God entrusts every human being to each and every other human being. But this entrusting concerns women in a special way - precisely by reason of their femininity - and this in a particular way determines their vocation.

So, I have been praying a lot about how to nurture the people around me and help them become more like Jesus.  Maybe the avenue for physical motherhood will open for me, or maybe not--it is something that I have to entrust to the infinite wisdom of Jesus.  Even so, I can let God work through me to be a spiritual mother right now.  As I become more available to be a conduit of grace for the people around me, I will be able to discover who God made me to be...Maybe someday a Mama, but always a Mamasita!

This is my favorite picture of Mary and Jesus: the painter is Bougereaux.  Notice that she is focused on Jesus, just as it is in scripture--everything that she is is because of Him (Luke 1:46-50).  Also notice how she is holding Jesus in such a way that his position mimics what it will be on the Cross.  His focus is on us while his hands are stretched out in blessing toward us.  Someday, I want a nice framed print of this.