“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” – Angela Schwindt
by Martha Sears, RN
This quote came to me in an email from a close friend and colleague in the parenting world, Janet Jendron, President of Attachment Parenting, International. I have known Janet since the late 1970s, when I first got involved with La Leche League following the birth of our fourth baby. Her email said, simply, “Got this today. Like it!” And once again, she and I connected on the level that has defined our closeness as friends: The Mom Level. Between Janet’s four and my eight, she and I have had a lot of lessons from our children in “what life is all about.”
I was at first thinking to write this story about what each of my eight has taught me about life. Realizing that would not be a short story but a book, I want to instead hone in on what all mothers know is true, whether they have one child, or several, or many: The lessons a mother learns from her child, as each one comes along, are intense and personal. And I have been blessed to experience this intensely and personally seven more times after I began to learn to be mother to that first one. And the learning never stops. There is so much to ponder.
Mothers ponder and muse, and as they do, they pray. They want the best for their kids, so they pray a lot. My prayers revolve around how I think each child is doing, and what that “best” for these kids (who are now all grownups) can be. Not my best, what I want, but what God wants. That can get tricky and it is a workout to keep my focus on that – that it’s not about me.
“Keep” is another word for ponder, and both easily turn into prayer. It’s an ongoing dialog I have with God about each of them, and most days it’s, of course, about one or two more than the rest, and that changes from day to day or at least week to week. They all take turns being the “prayee”. I “keep” them in my heart, one at a time or all eight at once. Mostly the keeping turns out to be thanking God for the richness that each of them has added to my life as their mother. The main thing I’ve learned is to hand them over to God. That’s really what “keeping” means. When I keep my children handed over, I avoid the terrible trap of mom guilt and mom worry (or at least too much worry).
I want to end this blog with another quote, one that I have saved for many years since I first heard it. It is a quote from Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty, who lived as a prisoner under Communism in Hungary. His quote is striking, considering how he had to live his life.
“The Most Important Person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any cathedral – a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby’s body…The angels have not been blessed with such a grace. They cannot share in God’s creative miracle to bring new saints to Heaven. Only a human mother can. Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other creature: God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of creation…What on God’s good earth is more glorious than this: to be a mother?”