I remember the first couple weeks with my first baby. We lived in a one bedroom apartment and when our baby girl was one week old, one of our favorite priests came to stay with us for the weekend. All of us were a little naive about what those first nights would be like with our one week old baby. Challenged by breast feeding, just a little sleep-deprived and a wee bit hormonal, the words from our newbie-priest-of-one-year guest have stayed with me for sixteen years: “staying with you has really confirmed my vocation to the priesthood”
Now don’t get me wrong…I’m happy to be a part of a priest’s confirmation of his vocation to the awesome priesthood, and honestly, I think it’s pretty funny now, knowing what an earnest compliment it was intended to be.
I remember not a week or two later, my best friend, pregnant with her first of five children came to stay with me. In anticipation of her first child, she brought a textbook she was reading: “How to raise children God’s Way.”. From what I glanced at (and didn’t block), it was all about getting the baby on a schedule, and ordering the child’s needs from the start. Needless to say, pacing with my screaming little newborn at three in the morning, I glared at that book sitting on the coffee table, never really giving the book more than a feeble flip. I never did pursue the rigid schedules and have not achieved consistent discipline of my kids in every little facet, but I’m not all that disappointed about that.
The truth is, my house isn’t exactly orderly or even clutter-free. Bedtime isn’t nearly as early or consistent as it should be. Chores are assigned and performed more than a little haphazardly. My kids aren’t predictably well behaved in public. (insert video of our two year old at Mass or on the recent airplane ride from Florida here) I see disapproving looks from people in the pews or perhaps I’m just self-conscious and expecting there to be. I know for certain that we get approving looks, compliments on our kids and unsolicited reassurance that we are in fact doing a great job.
The truth is….we have good kids with personality and charm. They are not afraid of their parents and I don’t wish them to be. They don’t expect all of the conveniences that their friends are given, and they do their best to take care of the things they earn and cherish. They all have something to learn …time management, social formalities, organization, priorities. They also all have some extraordinary gifts: gifts surpassing those of their parents. They don’t always get along and they may not fully appreciate their siblings, but I think that that’s a work in progress.
We laugh about that weekend we shared early on, along with our priest friend. Fr. Scott. All of us were adjusting to our new vocations, recognizing the challenges and growing into our new responsibilities. Sixteen years later, we can better recognize the fruits.
Fr. Scott is now the moderator of an awesome order of priests (the Companions of the Cross), and can fondly reflect on many awesome priestly appointments, missionary work and a loyal flock of spiritual pilgrims. Our five kids are awesome human beings, growing and learning as they discover their own path and ultimate vocations.
My prayer is that despite all of our faults and failings, we can help them to grow in their love for God and strive to do His Will. I hope that we can reflect the Lord’s Love for them enough to make them yearn for more.
And in the words of another favorite priest responding to my anxious question “what if I wreck my kids?” Fr. Roger said with a smile….”the Lord loves your kids even more than you do…
…and He will heal them.”
Copyright 2012 Monica McConkey. Originally posted October 12, 2012.
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