These moments were always fleeting, but their mark was made nonetheless, always just beneath the surface, ready to be visible again if only I willed it.
The problem is, as I go through life, the hectic rush of the day to day, the worries, anxieties, problems, and nerves, all seem to dominate, so that by the nightfall, I'm just grateful to have gotten through yet another one. I don't often sit and ponder the things I am not sure about. What I'm sure about are the trials in front of me. My goal is to face the trial head-on, and tackle it as best as I can. And I've been known to do this for others, too - "Here, let me show you how to carry that cross... no, no, not like that... here, I'll just do it for you."
It is likely the largest thorn in my side, because it keeps not only myself from spiritually progressing (hard to carry your own cross well when you're trying to carry someone else's on top of it - while refusing to accept help, of course) - but it also prevents others from growing the way they were meant to grow. In trying to help, I am only stunting.
One of these moments of clarity came a few years ago, while trying to reconcile my life's goal (to be "a good mother" as I wrote in answer to an Elementary School survey asking what we would want to be if we could be anything in the world) with my life's reality. I'm pretty sure I was moping about it at the time. "Poor me, I can obviously never be a good mom if I don't have kids..." when the moment hit me. Like a thought straight from heaven, "Who says you can't?"
And in that instant, I realized just how much I could, even in my current life's situation, be what I felt God called me to be - a good mother. Without kids. I realized the importance of living, leading, and teaching by example. Like Mary was a good mother both before and after Jesus, so too I could be a good mom, if I worked at it.
It would take work, for sure. I knew that then. And since then, as I've so often failed, I've been apt to give in to the notion that even if I could be a good mom without kids, I'm just not a good mom because I keep making mistakes.
A notion I'm sure many moms with kids can relate to.
It's hard to feel like a failure. Either as a mom, or as a woman trying to become a mom, failure makes us feel inadequate, unworthy, and like giving up. Except with kids, it is hard to give up. They are still there, regardless of the mistakes you make. They still need you, every day, to be there to show them the way. Giving up would quite literally mean walking away.
For the mom without kids, it is a lot easier to give up. What's the point, right? We were silly to believe that our example had any impact on the people around us, to begin with. Why not just give up the charade and accept our loss with a good dose of self-pity, eh?
But in re-visiting my moment of clarity, when it made perfect sense that we can become good moms without kids, I knew that part of the battle wasn't just getting there, but staying there.
A good mom doesn't give up. Ever. No matter how many times they've had to raise their voice, repeat a request or warning, clean the same mess, or hear the same complaints. It isn't what they say, how they clean, or who talks back that makes them a good mom. It is the fact that they don't stop. Ever. And they teach their children this lesson, by understanding it takes time to learn it. They are patient. Always. Yes, even when they can hear the shrieks and shrills of the day in their head at night, knowing the loudest one was probably their own. They lose patience. But they get it back again, quickly. Because it was always there, just under the surface.
Patient Determination. That is what makes a good mom. This is something that can be exercised with or without children. When we falter, we need to get back up again. When you think it's pointless, think again. Just as detrimental as it would be for a mom with kids to walk away from her vocation, so, too, would it be if the moms without kids walk away from theirs. It's going to be hard, that's a given. And the easier road is appealing.
I know what you're thinking...
But I ask you, if you don't make the time, what type of example are you leading for all of those "children" around you, who depend on you, look up to you, follow you, gain perspective through you?
You can be a good mom, without kids.
And I urge you to give it a try.