December 1, 2017

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Parenthood calls us to love our children—no matter what

Patti LambRecently, I enjoyed an opportunity I haven’t had in a very long time. When I visited my friend in Ohio, her little sister happened to stop by with her 3-week-old infant. My friend’s sister graciously let me hold her little girl. I practically melted. Rosie smelled like lavender baby wash, and she slept peacefully in my arms for 15 minutes while we visited in the living room.

“My kids were never this little,” I said, as I stared down at the 8-pound child in my arms. I truly couldn’t remember Henry and Margaret being that size.

I asked how mom and baby were doing.

“Honestly—perfect,” she said.

She went on to tell me how well everything had gone—from the ease of birthing the baby to the fact that the little darling—with the most amazing bright green eyes—slept through the night the past four nights.

“Even Bruno loves her and takes care to walk softly around her,” she added. (Bruno is their ginormous dog.)

She told me that she absolutely loved being a parent.

I drove a few hours back home later that evening, and still smelled little Rosie on my sweater—until I walked in the door and smelled only burnt pizza.

Not only did the house wreak of burnt food, but it was in complete disarray. Both kids were working on science fair projects, and there were supplies strewn across the kitchen floor. I almost tripped over a bag of silverware on the floor that my son was using to weigh down a bridge structure he was testing.

There were gnats circling some grapes that no one had put away in the refrigerator. When I put them back in the fridge, I discovered a completely empty carton of orange juice one of the kids put back on the bottom shelf.

I’ve only been gone eight hours, I thought to myself.

Just then, the kids came running down the stairs shouting at each other.

“Yes you did!” Margaret screamed at her brother.

I heard my friend’s little sister’s words echo in my head: “I love being a parent.”

No one knew I was home yet, so I tiptoed into the living room and counted to 10 before I morphed into momzilla and started yelling at the kids.

I saw the Nativity scene in a box, next to some ornaments. We had planned to decorate for Christmas that evening upon my return home.

I looked at the Nativity scene—Mary, Joseph and Jesus surrounded by animals in a barn. There was no room for a dignified birth, so our Savior was born in a stable and laid in a manger. Even for the Holy Family, God’s chosen ones, parenting wasn’t a perfect road. Mary fretted when Jesus was lost in the temple, and she mourned when she watched him wrongfully and shamefully be put to death before her very eyes.

While we might not always be chanting “I love being a parent,” it’s a vocation to which we’re called on good days and bad ones.

There will be hills and valleys. There will be times when our children make us proud, and there will be times when they make us want to hide our faces.

But we are called to love them always.

Elder Ballard captured it well. In this saying, I encourage you to replace the word “mother” with “parent”: “There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Every situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges … and certainly different children. What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply.”

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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