Thursday, March 31, 2011

Last day as a mother

What if today was your last day as a mother? Huh? How does that work?

You know those universal existential moments when you ask the deep questions about life? For some reason I always get into that mode right before April Fool’s Day.

Weird, right? Is this some sort of uncanny reference back to when my ancestors were reportedly court jesters? Although no one’s shown me any documentation to indicate that story has any measure of truth. Perhaps it’s a subconscious way of saying something as wise as King Solomon, you know the “all is vanity” stuff from Ecclesiastes. I don’t know, I just know it happens every year.

This year’s angst seems somehow deeper. I’m sad today, although most of my coworkers would be unaware of it, and my family probably won’t notice it much either. Tragedy has hit my world, but since it’s outside my door - maybe even down the street a little - it almost makes it easy to ignore, almost.

A woman a few years younger than me, pregnant with her third child and mother of identical twins under 2-years-old, died unexpectedly this March. She was far enough along so the doctors could deliver her baby, but after a week or so in critical condition the baby died as well. A father is now left alone - alone to grieve the loss of his wife and newborn - alone with the inconceivable task of raising his twins by himself while hoping he can provide them with some knowledge of their mother.

I don’t know this family at all really. I only know of the story because the mother and I happened to both be members of a local mother of multiples group. She and I had never met. Yet, here I am, unable to shake my sorrow and grief for this family. I’ve begun to hold my daughters a little tighter. Those mother/teen conversations sometimes taken for granted have greater meaning lately. Even casual comments between Tripped Up Daddy and me about mundane things seem to hold more value right now.

Then come the practical “what if” questions and before you ask, yes, we will be getting the guardian/will stuff in order (the stuff we’ve talked about but never really followed through on).

Right after the practical questions, come all the other deep questions. If for some reason my parenting stopped today, would I be satisfied with what I’ve instilled in my girls so far? Tough question, but maybe one worth asking. It makes me evaluate the moment more - makes me look more seriously at priorities. That’s the personal, our family stuff, the “am I representing my faith well,” the “do my kids know I love them,” type of questions.

Then I get more global. Recently, I read an essay that indicated a U.S. woman giving birth today has a greater chance of dying than her mother did. It was a new thought for me. I don’t know how accurate the information is, but it sure made me think.

Then I thought about all the cuts going on in Congress and how that will affect mothers and children - especially those currently in poverty or on the edge of it. Sometimes I get tired and disillusioned when I look at all the issues in the world - from Japan’s tragedy to failing states, from world issues of poverty and corruption to the people who can’t find work right here in my own state. Sometimes it just seems like way too much for anyone to handle and it makes me want to run and hide (or maybe just live in denial).

Then I remember that I’m not responsible for changing the world. I am responsible for taking action and for training my children to love well and live in the present moment with compassion. But God never asked me to do more than take one step at a time.

I’m in the midst of a Lenten prayer experiment - praying for a dream, praying for a big dream that I believe God wants me to pursue. Not exactly sure what that means yet, but mostly I think it means being willing to take a step - a step toward helping others and a step toward Jesus at the same time.

So maybe that’s my answer - it’s Lent, and I’m reflective. Here’s hoping my deep questions bring some action that will help others - one step at a time.


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