Lately, articles on motherhood have been passed around. These have aimed at honestly recognizing the difficulties and the blessings of parenting. I enjoy these and appreciate their honesty. However, there is one critique I will make, and this is coming from someone who experiences those same joys and challenges: these articles largely look at having children by how they affect parents, which is logical given our contemporary way of thinking. But, there are other dimensions worth seeing. Kids have their own perspective of our relationship with them. This perspective will stick with them into adulthood. Let's not forget they are as real a human being as we are.;)
If, however, we stick with the point of view of how motherhood affects us, let's turn the prism slightly and see something different. We are not only shaping our kid's character (or forming our kids if you prefer). Often times, we only see formation as one-sided. Rather, they are forming us, too. This is so much more than merely affecting us and making us happy or challenged. This formation is not active, but happens by mere fact of their existence, and our relationship to them. Each child's uniqueness forms us as well. They each draw certain traits out of us, traits we need to be developing and growing. Why? Because this is what is meant to happen. We only become more beautiful the more we are able to serve. And by serving, I do not mean waiting on, I mean being a mother or father and all that takes. The growth begins when we accept this and give our assent to it each day.
If you have ever read The Great Divorce, CS Lewis paints a beautiful image of super humans after death- strong, beautiful giants, if you will, who exist in stark contrast to those still living. I think this is the formation we are getting.
But this forming is hard because we want to make ourselves the focus- it is there in each of us. So lets look at another example. Have you ever ridden a strong, stubborn horse? They may just take the bit in their teeth and there is no bending them to your will. I distinctly remember being carried off at the mercy of JT, a strong quarter horse who I was riding with only a halter (no bit). We went flying wherever he wanted to go. He was that stubborn. Yes, flying is fun, but I wanted to do the steering. We, too, can be stubborn. We don't want to be stretched. Remember those first exhausting days and nights with your first infant? But that is the point. We have to see this as a beautiful opportunity, or it will crush us, and we will live on Starbucks, chocolate, and American Idol. ( I am not suggesting no balance in life. I am a great advocate for it. ) But, if we let our parental relationship with our kids form us, and not just appreciate the blessings and deal with the hardships, horse and rider are one, and it is a magical thing ( see Mom and Dad- all those years of lessons have paid off ;).
As Blessed John Paul II said, we live in relationships which define us, we don't just have them. This is not something we readily see this in our time, which is one of the crushing pitfalls of individualism. Let's say yes each day to allowing ourselves to be formed. Then we might be able to count ourselves among the strong, beautiful super humans of Lewis' dreams.