A week or so before Christmas I was pondering my purpose in life. I was disappointed with the reality that no matter how hard I try to be efficient, I just can’t seem to get much done besides being Mamma. Some days, just getting a load of laundry completely through, or getting the dishes from table to dishwasher feels heroic. The interruptions of baby Aaron are frequent and imperative. Not that I’m complaining. Being a mother trumps any experience or achievement real or imagined in my life so far. Just holding him is a sweet reward. Yet I persist in wavering between pure surrender to the fleeting moments of motherhood and the voice of the self-critic that says I’m not doing enough to validate my freedom, my time, my education, etc. etc.
So, while nursing the wee babe I decided to journal. I figured by asking the question: “what am I supposed to be doing with my time right now” the answer would manifest. I wanted to search the Scriptures for answers, but my Bible is unwieldy. Too big for balancing with the baby on my lap, especially when he’s focused on his all-important task of eating. Meanwhile the good hormones released by breastfeeding had begun to work a marvelous calm in me. When Aaron finished eating I decided to lay him down on my bed and sleep next to him for 15 minutes or so. My face was right next to the baby, so we were looking eye to eye, so focused I could see my own reflection in the blue-black of his iris and pupil.
We both fought sleep in order to keep staring, but it was a losing battle. Aaron succumbed first. Sleep washed over him like a soft wave and I admired how his wide lids and long lashes are so perfectly formed. Cheeks full and flushed with life. Lips slightly open. I could feel cool air on my face and looked up thinking it was the ceiling fan, but the fan was off. It was the breath from baby’s nostrils. And then he reached with his hand, still so hard for him to control, and it landed like a gentle smack across my nose. Palm to Palm is holy palmer’s kiss (Romeo & Juliet, Act 1 scene 5). Smack to the nose is baby Aaron’s kiss.
I got to thinking the intimacy between us as mother and son was so seasonally appropriate. The image of Madonna and Child–an icon of Christmas–is kind of an ordinary event. A portrait of a woman holding her child and contemplating the mystery and the miracle of his life. For us as women it is also an expression of Emmanuel. Just as the Spirit hovered over Mary, God-is-with-us, dignifying, sancifying and blessing our everyday acts of love toward our children and other family members. Mary had prophesied over herself: “henceforth all generations shall call me blessed“; I believe she was also symbolically prophesying over all womankind. We too are blessed to be agents of heavenly peace. We carry this Peace when we welcome the love of God for us and within us, allowing that Love to spill over into the lives of the people around us.
Thank You Aaron, for being my son. Thank You Jesus, for coming as a helpless baby. Thank You Father, for sending Him to us in this way and affirming forever the dignity of every mother’s work. Thank You for the blessing of this sacred time in my life, when I am called to contemplate the peaceful face of an infant and even to see through his tender eyes a new image of myself. Thank You for this beautiful portion of Heavenly Peace.