I remember career day at school. Parents of my classmates would come to class and talk about what they did for work. My classmates’ parents were nurses, firefighters, accountants, and held many other occupations. I also remember when Mrs. Anderson asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told her I wanted to be a mom. My mom was and still is my superhero. She volunteered at my school, church, and was ready with sliced oranges and capri sun for any sporting event on the calendar between us four kids. She was always willing to spend time with me. I remember always feeling loved. I, indeed, am very blessed by my mother and do not take it for granted.
When my husband and I were engaged we talked about what our life would be like after our wedding. We would live in the country, but were not brave enough to live on a hobby farm (I am not built for mucking stalls or feeding animals in weather under 50* – and in Wisconsin, that means I am useless for about 8 months out of the year). However, we would have dogs. He would hunt, I would race triathlons. We would have four boys because I am so not a girl mom – I don’t even know if my hairdryer works… or where it is?
Like everything else in my life, God had plans that were better than my own. I have a son named John, and two beautiful daughters. We are prayerful in hoping for more children to our family. If the Lord blesses us with another boy, we plan to name him James. If we are blessed with more girls, then I will probably need a hairdryer and a lot of YouTube tutorials.
I share all of this because despite all my planning and desires, I am still so afraid to mess it up. Do I send my child to public school or Catholic school? Or do I need to homeschool? But I want to be a working mom! No toys or snacks at Mass. But will they then dread the hour where they are expected to sit quietly? Am I offering enough variety of food to my child? Will someone please tell me what stance I should have about when to introduce solid foods to a baby?!
When I go into my space of consuming self-doubt, I think about two brothers that were friends of Jesus. James and John are known as Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17). And specifically, I think about their mother. The mother of these two sons makes an appearance in Matthew’s Gospel. She wishes to ask of Jesus that her sons be at His right and left. (Matthew 20:20-28). I hear myself in her voice. Sometimes I hear the request coming from a place of shyness where she doesn’t want to disturb the Good Teacher, but wishes to please Him with her request and sacrifice of her sons. Other times I hear her asking Jesus with a tall spine, sharp cheekbones and a voice of confidence that she raised her sons right!
What is beautiful about putting myself in the shoes of the mother of the Sons of Thunder, is that regardless of my request to God being in that of shyness or of confidence, Jesus denies her request. It is not part of His will. It is not part of the plan. She couldn’t mess it up.
As a mom, of course I want what is best for my children. It takes intentional effort for me to remember that I am not meant for this world, and neither are they. My children will only live for a decade of decades – if even that long – but their souls will live for trillions and trillions of years in either heaven or hell. When I am truly being the mom that I dreamed of being during career day, I beg of God to hold tight to my children; that they love the Lord with all their heart, all their soul and all their strength and never let go of Him. I pray that my children will devote their lives to Jesus and His call. Then the decisions I am worried will ruin my children seem less intense. God will take care of my children, no matter what my request is.
So, next time you are worried about whether you are going to mess up your children, put yourself in the shoes of the Mother of Boanerges and ask big. God’s love will always be greater than the plans we have for our children.