I love being a mom. When I was younger, I wanted a BUNCH of kids, but God must have known I could only handle two! When they were small, I loved the snuggles and coos, the faces lit up with smiles when I walked in the room. Toddlers seem to learn something new every day and their desire to talk and explore and become independent can be a bit daunting.
When my son was in pre-school, he was in the car with me a lot. I was his primary caregiver, taking him to school, picking him up, getting dinner, taking him to religious education classes and to mass. My husband and I were experiencing a rough spot in our marriage; he was working two jobs and studying for the CPA exam. Consequently, my son and I spent plenty of time together. In the car, I listened to a local Contemporary Christian music station. We learned the words to numerous songs and sang along at the top of our lungs. Then one day we were in the car with my husband and Robert Plant’s song “Addicted to Love” was playing on the radio. From the back seat we could hear “might as well face it you’re addicted to the Lord”. We did our best to keep straight faces and told him what the lyrics really were. He was having none of that! His version was the right one and he just kept on belting it out.
When he was in middle and high school, he was a reliable, responsible altar server, eventually assigned to train the new little ones who wanted to be a part of this ministry. He had a steadfast faith and wasn’t afraid to show it. Our priest asked him to become part of the pastoral council at our parish, becoming the youngest person in the diocese to hold such a position. Sometimes we even wondered if he might become a priest.
Fast forward to college, and as many young people do, he began to enjoy drinking, smoking pot and the usual such distractions. He drifted away from the church, which was a source of disappointment and distress for this Catholic mom. I worried that I had done something wrong that would have caused such a drastic change. My well-planned picture of my kids growing up to be faithful Catholics, attending mass, studying scripture, participating in ministries – was crumbling out of focus. Buddhism and eastern philosophies became attractive, while he pushed Catholic teachings farther away. All I could do is pray that the Spirit would help him find his way back.
I can’t say that it was a miraculous turn around, or that I was always patient and understanding. There were no dramatic, cinematic moments when the clouds parted and the sun shone down upon us. But my son is an intelligent, open-minded young adult who has searched his way back to the Church. He still has some disagreements with a few teachings and he can be quite vocal about that. He still knows which buttons to push to get under my skin. But we love each other, have lengthy email exchanges and face-to-face discussions, expressing our viewpoints and why we hold them. We don’t always agree and sometimes I have to back off a bit. I think he and my husband are able to have less divisive discussions because they have been down somewhat similar paths. Listening to them talk about their faith just fills up my heart to overflowing.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that MY plans aren’t always implemented. God has a perfect plan; letting go to allow his grace to work in my kids’ lives has been a struggle. When I do sit back and watch them blossom in the love and knowledge of the Lord, I realize that He had been at work in them all along. My attempts to prod and push and demand His response were only proof of my lack of faith, the source of my frustration. Our Father loves us beyond comprehension; He will make all things right. I just need to stay out of His way.