Monday, February 14, 2011
The Genius of Women
Last week I was invited to speak at an event sponsored by Vanderbilt Catholic called "The Genius of Women" in honor of the beautiful letter written by John Paul II. I spoke to a secular audience and was asked to reflect on motherhood and fertility through the lens of my miscarriage, hence, a pro-life approach but without mentioning much about my faith life and I only had 3 minutes to do it... The talk took me days to write with such restrictions.... I thought I would share...
It was June 27th, 2008. I had passed out in my OB’s office due to the intense pain I was experiencing and I was rushed to the hospital for some pain killers to help me physically cope. Once I was aware enough, they rolled me into the ultrasound room. Although technically she couldn’t officially say, I bribed the ultrasound tech with my teary eyes and after a while she confirmed for me that there was indeed no heartbeat found on her screen. The sorrow in that moment was pretty overwhelming. I knew something was terribly wrong, but to hear it was heartbreaking. After all, like any other mother who was 7 weeks pregnant I had already imagined his face, what I would teach him, the kisses I would cover his cheeks with and who he would grow to be. It was a sorrow that I will carry with me forever. Being pregnant I started to learn to love as a mother. After losing my physical motherhood I realized that my ability and responsibility to love as a mother doesn’t just extend to my children but to everyone I encounter. As a woman I was given special gifts. I still had a dignity and value to the world.
I realized that the unique gifts I had been given could still bring a great vibrancy and life to those around me. I could bear fruit in my relationships with friends, co-workers, my students, my husband and my family. I was created with a heart to give and a heart to love. I was able to listen intently to a friend who was suffering. I was easily able to offer affection to those who needed a good squeeze on any given day. I was able to be attentive to details that others may overlook. I could be consoling without being asked to. I could cook a meal for someone who was sick. I could fix things that others didn’t know were broken. My motherhood was a gift to others. I was designed this way and it filled me up. As a women I realized this beautiful tendency to love was not out of duty but desire.
I eventually was given the unique opportunity to bear fruit physically. I cannot tell you the feeling I had the first time I felt Gabriel kick in my belly. I must have laid there for hours waiting for the next movement. There was a person inside me. What an honor and privilege! Over the next months I got to imagine how he was growing while watching my belly stretch so big. I don’t think a day went by when I didn’t look in the mirror and say to myself “Is this seriously my body?” I could eventually tell where his little feet were and were his butt was when he stretched inside. It was truly the most amazing experience of my life. I have now been fortunate enough to experience this two times. I have since had one more little boy, Anthony, who is not so little. He is my chunky kid and Gabriel is my little peanut. These boys have given me a bigger purpose in my life.
You see I didn’t wait till I had the big house or the picket fence, a steady job or income at that. My children have not been a check on my list, but more life in my life. With them I have come to realize the power in my hands. I have them in my grasp from the moment they take their first breath until the moment they walk out the door… and even then… I am still their mother. No matter where they go, no matter where you go… we all have a mother. They are esteemed and honored because they gave us life. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t you talk about my mama?” It says it all. Mothers are respected in all circumstances.
As a home engineer I feel I have one of the most important jobs in the world. I wouldn’t trade it for any position or any cost. There lies a nobility in what I do. Yes, I do laundry and cook and clean, but that’s on the side. Leaving the job as a big CEO behind leaves me to influence people in a bigger way as a mother. I am the main source of forming my children to be citizens of this world. Motherhood is outsourced today and I can see why… this is the most I have ever sacrificed and struggled in my life, but it’s worth every penny. I helped with Gabriel’s first steps, I have read to him countless hours to help form a proper vocabulary, I have worked day after day to form manners and good habits, I have had to let him cry it out through the night so he could learn to get a good night’s sleep, I have tried to get him to eat well, and I am working on his kindness, compassion, responsibility, self-control, and most importantly I am trying to teach him how to love… which is only achieved by him watching my life and how I love. This is the responsibility on a mother’s shoulders… feel the pressure, ladies? You should.
You think they are not watching you, but they are… your every move. I was cooking dinner the other night and heard Gabriel in the living room talking. Anthony was kicking around on his play mat and Gabriel was sitting next him repeating the very words I speak to Anthony every day, “Hey little buddy. Howya doin’. Hey buddy. So cute.” One other instance was the other day while we met a little boy at the Children's Hospital. We were watching the train after Mass there and met a friend. When we went to leave I asked Gabriel to tell him bye. Gabriel looked up at me and said, "Hug, mommy." OK, go ahead, be sweet and give him a hug. And then before I could get to him he yelled, "KISS TOO" and planted a big wet kiss right on that stranger's mouth. Yuck. But, all my hard work in getting him to welcome people and say good-bye properly surely paid off. So sweet.
Just as I have discovered, you too have a great dignity and great responsibility to use your gifts to bring life and love to the world. So, bear fruit, ladies. The world needs you.