Thursday, April 10, 2008

As if kids weren't embarrassing enough at Mass...

The other day I found this post at Scribbet, which sent me back to the days when I used to play piano and sing for the 12:30 Mass at St. Thomas. I started playing organ when I was five (keyboards only until I could reach the pedals), and had my first church (Lutheran) at twelve. After I became Catholic, it took me some time to work up the nerve to get behind a keyboard again (I was afraid I'd publicly humiliate myself by missing my cue). Finally, at the tender age of 32, I started playing again -- once a month at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

This chapter of my life ended abruptly the week we got Christopher and Sarah (and their older sister). It happened to be "my" week at the piano, and Christopher spent the entire hour alternately whimpering under the piano bench or howling into the mike. (The howls got louder when Craig tried to pull him away from me.) Thankfully there were no "samba" buttons to push, but Christopher did manage to push most of my buttons before I had a chance to excuse myself and remove my foster son from the situation.

The following week, we started going to St. Andrew, where my music skills (thankfully) went largely unnoticed.

That incident taught me something important about the hidden life of motherhood. As single and newly married women, we use our gifts and abilities in a variety of ways that don't always translate well when we become mothers. And yet, the transition does not always come easily.

Frankly, there were times when I resented it. After all, I had gone from being, "Heidi Saxton, the musician and top-notch church volunteer" to "that disheveled woman who can't keep her brats in line." I won't kid you ... it was a demotion of the most painful kind.

In Raising Up Mommy, I talk about the virtue of humility that expresses itself distinctively in motherhood through the gift of hiddenness. As women, we find ourselves setting aside our gifts in order to expose the spiritual debris beneath: the pride, the self-reliance, the unhealthy kind of independence us Type-A personalities tend to exhibit in abundance.

If it were not for our children, we might never have an opportunity to weed out those spiritual toxins. But by the grace of God, the little humiliations -- perhaps especially the public ones -- become a source of unbridled grace.


Thomas Fuller said...

Love the local color.

Michelle said...

A friend of my husband - not married, no kids - asked if we ever get any "me" time. We laughed, but I felt sort of sad for her. Kids are so effective at erasing selfishness (as well as teaching humility).

Scribbit said...

My son accused me of embarrassing him and I told him the scales were piled up so far on his side that I could never embarrass him enough to make up for all the embarrassing moments he's caused me over the years.