All things are passing away
America has a political hangover this morning. And I probably would have been partaking in the social media grousing myself, had I not woken to a text message alerting me to a tragedy closer to home and far more important. A family we know is being asked to walk a way of the cross that takes my motherly breath away, and as I sat this morning, unshowered and uncoffeed, tears blurring the screen as I struggled to understand what I was reading, the idiocy and the acrimony of the past 8 months of political chatter faded into the background.
I hope that’s where it stays.
No matter what flawed and potentially felonious human being mounts the Presidential throne next January, it won’t change the brokenness of this world. Nobody can save us from the pain, the suffering, the incompleteness of this life. No matter their party affiliation.
Help us, Jesus. You’re our only hope. (And It feels right acknowledging that on May 4th.)
I have been coming out of the tunnel of early motherhood these past few weeks. I can see it here and there, in moments of rare solitude or sibling contentment, when I’m for once sitting and observing my children at play, not wiping or directing or yelling or shoveling.
And it is so sweet.
And it’s fleeting. Every long, hot afternoon in the finally-defrosted backyard, spent packing mud pies and shredding grass and breaking plastic baseball bats against the fence. (Our yard is an aesthetic dream, let me tell you.) Each fathomless post-nap and pre-Daddy arrival hour spent refereeing and rescuing and reiterating basic rules of human decency…it’s all temporary.
The days are friggin long and the years are bitterly short.
That won’t look good on a coffee mug, but it’s truer, at least for me.
Even while I’m pulling out my metaphorical hair trying to coax charity and obedience out of my little band of brothers and their renegade flight risk of a sister, I’m grieving the transformation of fat baby cheeks into more sculpted toddler features.
A preschooler displays a sudden flash of empathy and I glimpse the man he might one day become.
My daughter hands me a slobbered apple carcass to dispose of and tosses a casual “I love you, Mommy.” my way, and I almost have to shut my mind to the intensity of the moment, it can be so overwhelming.
It’s bittersweet, because I want to walk the line of authenticity with my friends and my sisters and with you all, because motherhood is hard. But it is also so beautiful.
It is beautiful to have your heart torn open for another person, to give yourself entirely in service of a creature with an immortal soul, equal to you in dignity (which I am constantly and shamefully forgetting) and utterly inferior to you, for the most part, in personal hygiene.
When I met my husband, death entered into my world in a more tangible way, because I knew that one day we would be parted. It was written into our very marriage vows, woven into the fabric of the happiest day of our lives.
And really, marriage is sweeter for it’s fleeting permanence, the forced acknowledgement of our own mortality in our pledge of “what remains” to each other. You can have all of me. The rest of me, in fact, until last call.
Motherhood is a little different. Motherhood bespeaks a promise of immortality, in the supernatural and even in the natural sense. My children are my legacy, emissaries of hope sent into the unknown. We are building a civilization we ourselves will not dwell in, pouring out blood and tears and sippy cups full of milk in the service of a future we cannot know.
And no matter how grim the state of the world appears, God keeps sending new life. My mom told me once when I was younger, maybe a teen, “new babies are proof that God wants the world to go on.”
And while I have no very new baby on the way, my littlest son is now 8.5 months old, rolling across the family room floor, mouthing for toys and squealing with delight as his brothers tackle his 21 pound body to the floor in a kinetic explosion that would have stopped my first-time-mom heart. And one day, God willing, he will be a man.
The future will belong to him, and I will fade into the background of his own personal drama, his epic contribution to the Story. And then I’ll be gone.
Hopefully not in the near future, and hopefully, my God how I hope, before him.
But this isn’t forever.
These sleepless nights. This frustrating season. This heartbreak. This agony. This time of uncertainty or loss, of pain, of prosperity, of confusion, of clarity…it’s all passing away.
All day I’ve turned over St. Teresa of Avila’s famous prayer in my tired brain, eyes filling up with unusual tenderness for a child in want of a drink, for a baby with an eager smile. And I’ve thought to myself, nothing outside these walls matters the way this does. And everything can – and will – disappear one day, in an instant.
Let’s not waste the time we have. Let’s not spend our hours wishing away the pain or hustling towards that next milestone.
And, looking away from the mirror for a moment, I invite you to consider doing the same.
This is such a wonderful response to the political insanity that has been happening. Thank you! (I also really appreciate the Star Wars reference. I think it is so appropriate that the day of “political hangover” happens to fall on May 4, when we can recall that an underlying theme of that whole saga is hope and redemption in the midst of terror and bad politics)
Thank you for this.
Jen @ Into Your Will
Love, love this. I remember the despair I felt in 2008 on Election Day. And it would have been so easy to feel the same way last night…but I just didn’t think it was worth spending any emotional energy on it. There are so many more important things in life. Thanks for the reminder!
Beautiful, Jenny. And how can Luke be 8.5 months already? That went by so fast. (Sob.)
Beautiful! I used to be way more emotionally involved in current politics. Then I had kids. With 3 small children, my focus is just elsewhere. Not that I’m not aware, or that I don’t care, but I simply don’t have the emotional energy to get mad at our culture like I used to. I think small kids made me more phlegmatic. I recognize the terrible state of this world, I most definitely say a prayer (or many!), and then I’m focused right back on my little family, with their little needs that are so very much my everything. I love your description of the future belonging to your kids, and you fading to the background, then completely away. I think that’s why I’m so content to focus on my family rather than the world. The most concrete thing I can do to improve the state of our world is to raise my kids to make it a better place.
Thank you, Jenny. It’s a raw day for me, watching all the crosses being carried and carrying my own and falling into pieces at the sorrow and beauty of it all. Thanks for writing when I can’t seem to. Thanks for writing out the raw-ness.
Ah. Motherhood. It gets to me, it really does, in every possible way, for better or for worse. What beautiful words Jenny, you have me tearing up at this. Thank you for such an important reflection.
I love your writing but this is one of your best!
Dear Jenny, such a beautiful post…..and timeless. Spoke to me powerfully even as my own “baby” is 8.5….years. The details of motherhood is where sanctity resides, and our vocations here in the hidden life are of immense value to God.
we already know who wins. everything else is simply a passing fancy. -winky face-
What does “Friggin long” mean?
really, really, really long.
Jenny, I always appreciate the depth and clarity of your posts, but I have never commented until today. Thank you for writing and sharing your gift. In the emotional exhaustion of prayer for elections and desperately wanting our culture to change, I was struck by the simple truth of what you wrote- no matter the candidate wins, our culture still needs healing. and all things are temporary. That we are called to pour ourselves into our families and children daily. Its hard to even describe the YES I have in my heart after reading this morning… Thanks for writing!
Love this Jenny!! Thank you.