When people ask me how old my girls are, marveling at their cuteness, my first thoughts always go to how old I am and will be as they hit milestones. Then my answer brings me back to earth: 6 and a half years seems both an eternity and a blink. When I think of all I have learned about myself in that short time, all I have found myself capable of, I do a double take. And it’s handy to have this reminder, especially when I find myself struggling as I have for these six years handling babies and job simultaneously by myself; or negotiating insurance issues of various kinds of surgery for Isabella; or finding ways to educate and enrich my children spiritually and mentally myself, and supporting their teachers; or maintaining a family life rich in slow, not fast living—tied to Franciscan values.
I could go on, but you get the idea. And I know I am not the only one, though sometimes my journey feels solitary, lonely. It’s always alleviated by sharing as I do with the many Mamas in my life (and growing number of Papas willing to talk about this stuff). It’s easy to forget we are a blood and flesh community, and that support can stem from that readily. I wish I’d had some of the online communities I am a part of when Isabella was a baby, and I was at home, teaching online, pumping at the same time, changing diapers while on a chat call with a student, mish-mashing too many things and losing my mind. It would have been helpful to have had someone to turn to during those times, and now I see the further value of moving beyond the Facebook feed to somewhere local and meeting face to face, sharing the growing pains of the journey.
I see a sharing now as well over the growing pains of our times—this vast change in too many cases for the worse, in aspects of our lives that are important (even if politicians are treating the subject matter of our lives carelessly). I see and feel the pains, concerns, and real fears of my friends, and pray for them—but want to act as well as pray. When I lament that I am old, I am half-kidding: indeed it will be tough for me in uncertain times to age, to deal with my body as it gives way to time, and to cherish each aspect of my family’s growth. But the flip-side of old is wisdom—is the experience gained that I equally cherish and bring together with my faith experience to see a whole picture. Part of my action in the world will be sharing wisdom; I like to listen to others' wisdom and share my own. In the act of sharing we can console each other and bring love into this toxic mix-up of a world so desperately in need of it. We each have ears, hands, feet to carry this out, and I am willing and able and grateful for such opportunities. I hope we find each other—and ourselves—in these encounters. I know we’ll find God waiting there for us.