I don’t talk too much here about parenting or family stuff…maybe I should? I don’t know that I’m ready to expose you to all that CRAZY just yet. (Insert emoji hyperventilating into a brown paper bag. Do they have that one yet???!!!)
Don’t even act like parenting is easy.
I have four.
It’s a serious trip to the looney bin.
BUT, today I’m letting you into that world…
This week, we’ve been talking a lot about Easter.
I’ve found myself saying things like, no you can’t have the ginormous chocolate bunny, no we’re not dying eggs in your Easter clothes and YES, for the love of all things holy YOU ARE WEARING A DRESS! (I’m all about breaking tradition but momma wants her picture. Don’t judge. I grew up in the South. I’m not fully sanctified yet).
So, this week we had a Seder lunch at the girls’ school – it’s seriously one of the most precious things.
We listen to the Passover story and eat various foods that represent what the Israelites endured while leaving Egypt and they tie it into the final days of Jesus.
(My two year old really got into the part where you dip your finger in juice and sprinkle it on your plate representing all of the plagues. For a moment I thought she was getting it, but when she started fisting grape juice from her cup like a cave man, I was like, Oh, right. That’s my kid. *sigh* maybe next year)
Near the end, you take matza bread, break it and eat it. Much like communion.
In a room full of elementary kids, my toddler on my lap and my 8 year old sitting next to me, I fumbled with my matza cracker and managed to break it into little pieces…
And then something happened.
Despite the kids, the babies and my now messy plate, something in me deeply connected with that moment.
I remembered the last supper…
Jesus in a room full of his disciples, friends and even one who would break his heart – knowing what he was about to endure, he looked at them…
Thinking this would be the best picture to represent what was about to take place, he broke bread and is remembered as saying: this is my body, given for you.
A perfectly whole piece of bread.
Never to be the same.
My heart nearly stopped.
As a mom, when you conceive a baby, your body expands to carry and nurture this little human.
IT’S AN AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL THING.
But, at the end – when it’s time to give birth – reality hits.
I remember sitting in my Dr’s office as she explained the different scenarios of labor as she encouraged me to select a “birth plan”.
Nothing short of sheer terror shot ALL THROUGH ME. She made it sound all nice like an extended vacation at the hotel-hospital. But I knew what this meant – epidural, no epidural, c-section or natural – one way or another a human being was going to come out of me.
OUT OF MY BODY.
Thumbing through the paperwork, I smiled and nodded, saying, oh yes, that plan looks great. Grins and joyful laughs all around the table. But, inside I was literally screaming, what the hell kind of crazy did I get myself into??
Because, listen, in that moment you can “know” that millions of women before you have done it. Given birth in cars, trees – even holy Mary did it in a barn – you can know all of that and try to convince yourself to be at ease, but it doesn’t stop the terror.
THERE WILL BE A HUMAN COMING OUT OF MY BODY.
And no matter how scared you are, there’s no turning back. Your body is fully committed to this new human’s life. No matter how painful, there’s no getting out of it.
My oldest is adopted, but I gave birth to my youngest three.
When I labored with them, the same thing happened every time.
EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
I got scared.
Really, really scared.
Then I got quiet.
Really, really quiet.
My body shook.
Because I knew what I was about to endure would be painful…
It would tear my body.
It would be bloody.
It would require every ounce of strength I had.
When it came time to push, I always had to have ice chips so I could stay focused on eating them (you know instead of the HUMAN COMING OUT OF MY BODY).
It kept me sane.
Through the first part of pushing, I chomp on them like a crazy person.
But, during the final moments of pushing, something shifts.
This intense wave of courage surges through you. Almost immediately everything you were afraid of vanishes and instead ALL you can think about is your baby. This precious person you haven’t even met yet.
You no longer care if it hurts.
You don’t care if you scream.
You don’t care if you’re torn apart.
You don’t care if you lose a lot of blood.
You don’t care about yourself anymore at all.
ALL YOU CAN THINK ABOUT IS THEM.
Women say incredible things during these moments. In traumatic situations, they will ask doctors to save their baby’s life instead of their own.
They will make their husband promise to do whatever it takes to make sure the baby is okay – ALL WHILE THEY ARE BLEEDING OUT ON THE TABLE.
And trust me, these women were probably just as terrified and self-focused as the rest of us when they arrived at the hospital that day. Never imagining within hours they would be willing to lay down the very body they were at first so concerned about.
Something in them changes: they let go of themselves and fight with valiant force for a new person’s life.
Birth is beautiful.
But it is messy. It’s bloody.
As I watched the broken matza fall into pieces on my plate, I finally understood the bread as a picture of his body…
The words every mother holding her new baby can understand are this: this is my body, given for you.
As I looked down at my sweet babies at that lunch, my eyes swelled with tears remembering my own body being torn apart for them.
My body will never be the same.
It bears scars that will never go away.
But, I would do it all again because it was what it took to have them.
I would go to hell and back for my babies…just like Jesus did after giving his body for us.
This year instead of viewing the cross a gruesome image that haunts me and pains me, I see it now more like a birth story…one that is painful, bloody and hard – but one that is incredibly beautiful.
It represents a violent, selfless love.
It represents fierce, parental love.
One that gave me new life.