Something jarred me today, and I realized that although I hear the word "no" a lot (and sometimes in very strange contexts, proving she doesn’t understand it quite yet), and even though I feel my patience level tested anew each day, and even though I use the phrase "going to the potty" and first-person plural regardless of whether I’m conversing with an 18-month-old or an 18-year-old – despite all of this, she’s growing fast.
Yesterday, she was born. Today, she’s toddling and pondering how to run. Tomorrow, she’ll leap away from me, and before I can blink again, she’ll be starting milestones I’m not mentally ready for, like the various graduations and first days and all of the things that involve the Big World. My test, I’m always reminded, is ongoing.
And my child is only temporarily small.
I can’t help but think of the role model I look to, Mary. Was Jesus really a toddler? Yes, I know the answer; I know the answer I’m supposed to know. But I haven’t really thought about the reality of potty-training Christ. I hadn’t considered a bundle of jumbles and smiles and stubbornness. Even if he was a perfect child, he had to be a boy to some extent, which involves some measure of mud under fingernails and exploration in the Great Out There.
I feel, on the one hand, like I have a lot in common with Mary. On the other hand, what kind of person gets asked to be the mother of God? I’m guessing that it’s someone who’s a lot different than me!
What faith, to say yes to a proposition which no human mind could really have understood? What patience, to look for your son, who’s the Savior of the world, the long-awaited Messiah, for three days and then find him back where you started? What courage, to be the first disciple? What strength, to stand at the foot of the cross? What hope, to stand in front of the empty tomb?
As a fellow mother, I look at Mary and think, "ah, there’s my hero, someone to look up to, someone who went through what I’m going through and did it with flying colors." Sometimes, if I’m not careful, that voice in my head gets the megaphone and trumpets out "You can’t be like that, you’re not the mother of God." Sometimes, I forget that this Toddler-tron phase is temporary, just like the sleepless nights and the nursing and the labor pains. All of the difficulties passed, and so did the little joys that always get stomped under the complaining.
I’m trying to remember that my child is only temporarily small.
Someday, there will not be a small head on my shoulder, representative of a weight I can contain within my two arms and keep safe by sheer willpower. Someday, and the day is coming so soon!, I will have to let her go into the Big World, and I will have to pray harder than I ever have.
If she was small longer, I might lose every shred of sanity. But if she grew faster, I might not have time to savor any of the joy.
Copyright 2009 Sarah Reinhard
About the Author
When she’s not chasing kids, chugging coffee, or juggling work, Sarah Reinhard’s usually trying to stay up read just one…more…chapter. She writes and works in the midst of rural farm life with little ones underfoot. She is part of the team for the award-winning Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion, as well as the author of a number of books. You can join her for a weekday take on Catholic life by subscribing to Three Shots and follow her writing at Snoring Scholar.