|Here I am, back in 1983 when I was a first-time mom to an 8-day-old baby boy--|
back when my arms seemed strong enough (after all, he only weighed just over 7 lbs.).
Right now you're probably thinking, "Wait a minute! Why is this ridiculously over-blessed woman being such an Eyeore, anyway? Didn't one of her sons just get engaged last weekend?" Yes, he did! Our middle son asked his girlfriend of a year to marry him--and he did it after months of elaborate planning and scheming, so that both sets of parents, various family members, and many loving friends could see her react to the surprise he'd orchestrated and share in the joy of their big day. They are hoping to set a December wedding date, so there is much to celebrate--and the happiness they've generated has done much to help lighten the heaviness that has been weighing on my heart. They make a beautiful couple, and we're thrilled that this son of ours, a glass-is-half-full optimist, was able to find such a perfect mate to be his other half: she is the girl of his dreams, his best friend, his sweetheart, his soon-to-be wife, and the future mother of his children. God is so very good!
Okay, so you're also probably wondering, "What was all that stuff about P90X and arm muscles?" That wasn't as random as it seemed, mind you; now I guess it's time to tie everything up here into a nice, cohesive package. Here's what got me thinking my P90X thoughts: I was so incredibly moved by that Simcha Fisher article I referenced way back in paragraph one of this post, which I found on National Catholic Register's website (and which you can read in full here). Fisher writes that a mother is "the protector who can't always protect; the one with arms that are designed to hold, always having to let go." When you become a mother, she says, you are "never allowed to be alone. For what? Only so that you can become strong enough to be a woman who will be left." [Sniff ]
I need me some P90X arms, that's all I'm saying.
But rest assured that I'm not crying into my coffee as I type this post. I'm learning that even when your kids grow up and move away, an invisible thread will always connect them to you. My deployed son just sent an e-mail yesterday, knowing I was worried about how down he was when he first arrived at his post and wanting to reassure me: "Things will get better for me, so you have nothing to worry about. I got your package by the way, thanks for the brownies. :-)" (That invisible thread I mentioned? Sometimes it's made of baked goods.) And after I sent my youngest son a text apologizing for being weepy on the phone (and having to pass it off to his dad) when I first got the news that he'd be gone most of the summer, he texted back: "Don't worry about it, that's fine! I know it's a lot to take in but everything will work out." (Sometimes you find that you've become the child and the wonderful child you raised has become the parent.) And then there was this recent joyful post on my son's fiancee's Facebook page: "Let me begin by saying that no words I type will even begin to do justice to the LOVE that has been poured out on me...VERY LITERALLY, THE MAN OF MY DREAMS surprised me with an incredible proposal." (There is nothing more satisfying for this mother than to know that the boy she raised has become the man of a young woman's dreams.)
What I'm trying to say is
Many of the blogs I read are what they call "mommy blogs," written by fresh-faced twenty-and thirty-something gals who are certainly never alone right now (not even when they try to get some privacy in the bathroom!). They are in the midst of raising young children, toddlers, and babies--and also frequently announcing the positive results of their latest home pregnancy tests! My blog, on the other hand, is what you might call a "grammy blog." I have moved on to another phase of life altogether, and I suppose if I can pass on some wisdom (you do get wiser with age, right?) to the younger generation, that might be a good thing. So here's my advice, ladies: build up those biceps, triceps, and whatever other 'ceps you have on those arms of yours. If you think you need strong arms now--to settle chunky, squirming toddlers on your hips, or to lift screaming, flailing babies out of car seats...you have no idea how much stronger you're going to have to be one day. As a young mother, you need strong arms to lift and carry your children; as a grammy, you need even stronger arms to hug them with all your might whenever you get the chance.
If there are any young moms out there reading this, are your arms aching now (the way your posts about babies sometimes make my ovaries ache)? If so, sorry about that. But motherhood is a double-edged sword, isn't it--as painful sometimes as it is wonderful. And who on earth knew this better than the Blessed Mother?
You know, come to think of it...Rosaries are probably better for the kind of strength I need than P90X work-outs (thank goodness!).