Yesterday, while picking up a prescription for one of my boys, I overheard an exchange between a Pharmacist and a Pharmacy Tech.
As the Pharmacy Tech was looking up the prescription I needed, she turned to the pharmacist next to her and said, “So what are you doing for your birthday tomorrow? I know your husband isn’t going to do anything for you,” she chuckled, “but how about your mom or your kids are they doing anything?”
“Well, tomorrow is my kids’ end of the year baseball party, so that’s what I’m doing.” She said with a smile, “When you have kids, that’s how you spend your birthday some times.”
With a snarky snort the Pharmacy Tech said, “Yeah! When you have kids, you have no life!”
The Pharmacist paused for a moment and then replied, “I have a life! My kids are my life but I have a life”
“Yeah, your kids are your life.” said the Pharmacy Tech as she moved to the shelf to grab my prescription.
Parenting is SO Much More Joyful than You Think it Is!
That’s what I wanted to say to her when she brought my prescription…but I didn’t. The exchange has been running through my mind since yesterday afternoon. I wanted to tell that tech that kids are a HUGE joy! That when we say our kids are our life, that doesn’t mean we don’t exist anymore – our existence is transformed into something much greater.
My children are also my life! If not for them, I believe that my world would look quite different! I know I would be much more selfish and self-centered. I know, because that’s how I lived for many years. My children and my husband are helping me to become a better person.
I think about those many times when I was so tired, and one of my boys would wake in the middle of the night. I would shuffle into their room, praying as I went, for him to fall asleep quickly, so I could go back to bed. I remember so vividly rocking each of my babies back and forth, while humming a song to get them to sleep. I was forced to slow down, to be patient, and to do something for another person who was completely dependent on me.
It was amazing how the frustration and exhaustion would transform. It was still there but as soon as I looked at that sweet face in the glow of the nightlight and kiss those plump soft cheeks, I could feel myself changing! As I gazed down at my child, you might find tears streaming down my face from the mix of exhaustion and JOY. If not for my children, I would never experience the juxtaposition of these emotions during such a precious moment.
Why do We Sometimes Assume the Worst About People’s Lives?
As my mind begins to marinate on these things, I imagine that the lady (without kids, I am assuming) has a picture in her mind of how life sucking having children must be. She probably envisions kids running around wild, breaking vases, the mother screaming, all while the kids are shooting each other with silly string.
Meanwhile, I am picturing how lonely her life must be. Sitting in a darkened room that is bouncing with shadows and flashes of light created by the glow of the television. Each night, I imagine, she nestles in her recliner with a TV tray in front of her, while stroking one of her 15 cats and eating Chinese take-out straight from the box.
The truth is, when we don’t know someone’s life, we can only assume what we do not know, until we do – and even then we still don’t really know. What I mean is, that woman can’t possibly know the joy of parenting and all of the precious moments and love it provides and what it means when a parent says that their children are their life – and in turn, I don’t know how fulfilling all the activities and events she experiences without children truly are. After all, not everyone is called to marriage and family, and there can be extraordinary joy and great satisfaction in those vocations as well! I know, because I have seen it happen for people I know and love.
Non-Catholics Cannot Understand the JOY of Being Catholic!
I began to relate this experience to how someone who has no belief in God at all, or someone who does believe but isn’t Catholic, might view religion in general – or Catholicism specifically.
Just like I pointed out above, it is hard to explain the joys of marriage and family or the joys of being single to someone who isn’t living it. In turn, it is difficult for me to explain all the grace and mercy that has been poured out on me – and filled me with more peace and joy than I have EVER experienced in my life, to someone who has not lived that for themselves.
My non-believer friends might think that religion is a waste of time, that I believe in fairy tales, or my freedom to do whatever I like, whenever I like, is being stifled by the “rules and regulations” they think that the church puts forth.
This isn’t just the thinking of atheists or agnostics, other Christians and former Catholics, too, have told me that they wouldn’t want to be part of the Catholic Church because of all the “rules”. At one time, I also scoffed at what I thought were rules that were put in place to make me feel guilty about all my sins, which kept me on the outskirts of the Catholic faith for many years. I felt like an Outcast in God’s Family.
Some might wonder why I wouldn’t want to be part of a church who “entertains me” from start to finish! I used to think I wanted that too until I experienced it and begin to long for the sacredness of the Mass.
I cannot explain what a gift and JOY that it is to receive our Lord- body, blood, soul , and divinity in the Eucharist.
I cannot explain the JOY that I feel when I hear stories from converts, explaining what made them come home to the Catholic Church — to hear some of these check out the Coming Home Network.
I cannot explain the Joy that comes from reading the scriptures and knowing that the Catholic Church doesn’t just make up rules to take away freedom – but instead to help us focus on Jesus and give us the wisdom to live in the world but not of it!
I cannot explain why I get teary as my heart swells with JOY every time I witness a baptism.
You know what steals freedom? Sin. Shame. Anger. Addiction. Activism without truth. I know because I have felt like a prisoner to all of these things.
You know what sets us free? Or more accurately Who?
I have never felt more joy, and peace, and freedom in my life. I have tried many things to feel happy, to make my way, and to figure out who I am. When I stopped doing what I wanted, when I wanted, for whatever reason I wanted – and began to ask God,
“What is it YOU want from me? What shall YOU have me do? Why have you put me here and why do you keep saving me, when I don’t think I really have much to offer this world?”
My entire life changed!
I cannot explain the JOY I feel when I say my children are my life and I cannot explain the JOY I feel when I say I live for the Lord!
You just have to take the leap and experience that for yourself.