Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Liberation Despite the Unexpected

I marvel daily at my son's peaceful temperament.  He is such a happy, content little guy, and so full of smiles.  To think of how chaotic life seemed the moment I found out I was expecting compared with how simple and focused life has become since his birth.  A unexpected turn in a seemingly out-of-control maze became a most liberating circumstance.

Before I continue, I must state this disclaimer: the following is a raw and brutally honest reflection.  You may be critical of my reaction to the news of my pregnancy, to the disappointment I felt about leaving my job, about the deep-seeded worry that kept me up at night.  But being open to new life and valuing the sanctity of life at all stages does not mean that one has to have a superficial, saccharin sweet demeanor regarding the logistics of providing for that life.  Let me be clear: I am pro-life.  But it is not always easy to have the correct joyous attitude all the time.  A couple committed to their marriage will still have arguments and will need to make necessary readjustments in their relationship.   Life is dynamic, a constant tension between worry and faith, selfish desires and God's Will. 

My husband and I knew we wanted more kids. I could not imagine only being pregnant the one time, having experienced all the milestones of a baby's first year of life so quickly and only once.  But looking at the home pregnancy test with wide, wide eyes was not exactly a teary moment of Hallmark caliber.  This certainly moved us up a notch on the complicated scale.  In the midst of the crazy morning routines, the weekly daycare schedules, the busyness of the schoolyear, the financial strain...and now another baby, I was immediately overwhelmed.  Unlike my first pregnancy, where I told everyone the second I found out I was expecting, I guarded the news of this second pregnancy, like tucking a secret note far back in a forgotten drawer.  What would people think?  The girls had just celebrated their first birthday; was the timing too soon? What if it was twins again?  Cue the emotional rollercoaster.

A dark cloud seemed to follow me the next day at school. I was physically tired, emotionally drained, and plain grumpy that I had to do the crazy morning dance and get to work as if nothing had changed. I was also finding my purpose in school to be suddenly and quickly fading: why put effort into the French curriculum that I had been building the past three years when I was to leave it all behind in a short six months when the school year ended? I went to Mass that morning and sat in bittersweet disappointment after it was over.  Ironically, the place of work that played such a pivotal role in my conversion and my openness to new life was now on the losing end of a tug-of-war battle between my private and public vocations.  I would be leaving the treasure of daily Mass with my students so soon, and yet the meditation and spiritual strength from receiving the Eucharist at these daily Masses helped me to understand that this new pregnancy was a reason for simple joy, not complicated and oppressing worry, even if I didn't feel such immediate happiness.

Despite the initial anxious gulp when I first realized the news, I was admittedly, deep down, relieved that my tormenting daily conflict had been resolved.  It did not make any sense for me to continue working with three little ones.  The cost of day care alone would have been more than my monthly earnings.  It was a no-brainer.  A third child made my decision to be a working or stay-at-home mom very simple, and I longed for simplicity.  I didn't have to do the balancing act anymore; I had the best excuse to dive into full-time motherhood.

You see, I had been praying hard about what I should do as a working mom.  I oftened lingered in the chapel after Mass, sometimes even teary-eyed, sitting in His presence and seeking His counsel.  I knew I couldn't make the decision on my own to leave my students, but I also knew that by not making a decision I was letting my two little babies down.  Perhaps it seems as though I was unwelcome to this new life, but deep down I knew it was God's Will and His answer to my search for His voice.  The logistics?  Yeah, they would probably be messy. The answer to my question? Simple and clear. And that was liberating.

Someone once said to me that the two best feelings in the world are being in love, and knowing that you are doing God's will.  So despite the whirlwind of unanswered questions, I knew that this baby had a purpose, and thus my purpose was to do everything in my power to protect that life and enable it to live to the fullest. 

My sweet baby boy is nothing but smiles, gentle coos, and warm snuggles.  Every time I gaze at his face I am reminded that the early stages of his life was the catalyst to some monumental decisions that required only God's grace.  God took care of us.  Our whole family of 5.