This weekend I was getting some things ready for a bridal shower for my oldest daughter and came across a notebook in which I had written this quote: “This is often the way God loves us: with gifts we thought we didn’t need, which transform us into people we don’t necessarily want to be.” ~~ William Willimon
I looked up the source of the quote and read through the whole article which you can find here: From a God We Hardly Knew. In short, it is a Christmas message about Isaiah 9:6 — “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given” — in which Willimon makes the point that Ahaz, in the original context, was looking for an army and instead God promised a child.
A bridal shower and Mother’s Day seem appropriate days for me to think about my children. I heard from all eight this weekend. Plus all three daughters-in-law. I am rich indeed.
And I never could have imagined this.
There was a point in time when I had been told that I wouldn’t have children without using fertility drugs.
Okay, I thought, a family is not in my future.
One of my favorite professors in college had encouraged me more than once to pursue medical school. “I don’t usually do this,” she had said. “I’m usually trying to dissuade students who think they want to be doctors.”
But I got married two weeks after graduating college. I supported my husband while he finished his schooling and began his first job. Once he was settled in, I began thinking about medical school and figuring out which classes I still needed — Calculus and Organic Chemistry. I contacted the nearest university to find out how to enroll.
Then I found out I was pregnant.
When you’re in high school, the guidance counselor never suggests motherhood as a career track. When you’re in college, the career office doesn’t suggest it either. Honestly, it wasn’t even a blip on my life radar.
Yet here I am today to tell you that being a mother — a full-time stay-at-home mother, who decorated funny-looking birthday cakes and washed-dried-and-folded mountains of laundry, who read the same books over and over until I could “read” them with my eyes closed, who played road-sign spelling games to entertain on long road trips and refused to get an entertainment system in our minivan because I WAS the entertainment system, who shopped at yard sales and thrift stores and sorted through bags of hand-me-down clothing because living on one income isn’t easy — being a mother was, and IS, the absolute best thing in the whole world.
Children are the gift I didn’t know I needed.
In addition to all the dandelion bouquets and crayon artwork, I received from them the very best lessons in patience, kindness, forgiveness, generosity, understanding, perseverance, creativity, humor — and that list could go on and on.
There’s a part of me that feels like I need to apologize. I know that not everyone has this opportunity. Not everyone can have children. Not everyone can afford to stay home. Life happens in different ways to each of us.
But I’m not going to apologize. I’m simply going to be grateful.