Two-year-old Kali is just getting over the stomach flu. And for the last two days, I’ve been fighting it, too. It’s horrible when the kids are not feeling well, but when you’re sick right along with them – not to mention, 5 months pregnant – the experience can be downright miserable.
I read an awesome article yesterday by Bobby Angel who wrote about his growing anticipation for his August wedding to Catholic singing sensation Jackie Francois. He described marriage as a “big, beautiful inconvenience”. It brought me back eight years when Gary and I were approaching our own wedding, waiting for that first kiss at the altar…knowing that after traveling two very broken roads, we would actually be united in the holy sacrament of Marriage. There would be much compromise, forgiveness, acceptance, and humility that was absolutely necessary for a successful marriage – none of which is ever a “walk in the park”. In good times and in bad, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. The vows alone gave us the heads-up that it wasn’t going to be easy, but we took consolation in the strength we would receive from God to be faithful.
What does this have to do with kids and the stomach flu? A lot. The common thread that runs through these experiences is Bobby’s very carefully chosen word: “INCONVENIENCE”. It would have been easier for me to stay single. It would have perhaps been more convenient for me to somehow find my way into a convent somewhere in the world, just because I really treasured solitude. But when God creates us for a particular vocation, there is a call within our hearts that we cannot ignore. For those who prayerfully discern that call, the path is very clear.
After we got married, the next natural phase that followed was parenthood. There was a deep desire to have children, the God-given fruit of married love. When we talked about babies in our future, we often pictured ourselves cradling precious bundles of joy full of coos and playful smiles…holding our toddlers’ hands as they enthusiastically skipped towards the playground…cheering at basketball games…applauding proudly at their graduations…our eyes filled with tears at their weddings (or ordinations!). At the same time, we also accepted that motherhood and fatherhood also came with great responsibility and sacrifice. As a woman, I understood that my body would stretch and ache beyond belief as each child developed within my womb. The first few months of life with each newborn were inundated with sleepless nights, dirty diaper changes, and the mystery of reading the cries and signals that left us both baffled and exhausted. The difficult role of disciplinarian kicked in at about 18 months to 2 years old when time-outs and “I said NO” become more and more frequent.
Then there are days like yesterday when we’re rushing out the door to go to work and we have to stop to clean vomit off of the floor. It’s the times where we are as nauseous as our kids, and we need to figure out why they’re screaming. Kali told me he wanted something in the fridge but didn’t have the words to tell me exactly what it was. Milk? Cereal? Cherries? Water? And I’m crying through my frustration praying to God, “HELP ME, LORD!” All I wanted to do was sleep!
So why did we get married? And why do we even bother having more children if it’s all so…inconvenient?
The answer is LOVE.
When we truly love, we want to give. We look past our comfort, our egos, and our personal desires for the sake of another. Our greatest fulfillment lies in doing something for someone that they will never be able to fully repay. For five years, I watched my husband cast aside his own ambitions to care for our three children at home. He lost sleep, gave up regular hang-outs with the guys, and put his career on hold – all because he wanted our kids to have one of us there with them. And this summer, it will be my turn. Gary will be going back to work, and I will leave my job of 12 years as a Catholic school teacher to have our fourth baby in October and continue homeschooling the kids. It’s a HUGE transition for us. I don’t do well interiorly with big changes, but it’s for the good of our family. If we just stay close to Jesus, ask Mama Mary to intercede for us, and beg the Holy Spirit for guidance, all will be well.
For every interruption…for every challenging moment…for every trial, I will trust that God’s blessings will be even more abundant. If it means that I become less selfish and more generous, less discouraged and more trusting, less self-reliant and more dependent on grace…PRAISE THE LORD. Amen!
For Bobby’s marriage article, click here: Marriage – A Big, Beautiful Inconvenience
“Yes, having a child is surely the most beautifully irrational act that two people in love can commit.” ~Bill Cosby, Fatherhood