I am pleased to welcome Kate Wicker to "Catholic Moms Talk" today. Kate shares a special story with us today. I suspect many moms will relate to her reflection. Kate Wicker is a wife, mom of four littles, speaker, and the author of Weightless: Making Peace with Your Body. When she's not attempting to keep her home one step ahead of a health hazard, she is a regular voice on Relevant Radio and a health columnist for Catholic Digest. Visit KateWicker.com for more information.
My Children are the Heart of God Himself
Several springs ago when my brood numbered three littles rather than four, I made the spontaneous decision - to strap the older girls into the double stroller and to tuck the baby in the Ergo and head outdoors for an evening walk. The girls were already in their pajamas and thought it was a great adventure.
For me, it was therapy.
The sky was bruised with clouds. It looked like a rain was on its way, and I hoped I might be able to drive out the hurt and the dull ache in my heart by physically pushing it out before the sky broke apart.
My older girls were quiet at first. A breeze cut across them, and I watched my two-year-old’s uneven wisps of blond air take flight in the wind. Back at home, a golden pile of my child’s hair sat on my dresser, evidence of an unfortunate encounter with scissors that went down while I had been nursing the baby to sleep for a nap. Those strands of hair were the straw that broke my back - and my patience.
Pushing the stroller ahead, I tried to keep from crying. It had been a day of too many tears - from the older girls who were stressed about an upcoming move, from a sick baby, and from a tired mom.
As I walked, I had trouble keeping my head where my feet were. My mind raced ahead to the future and how my actions from this day might affect my relationship with my daughters down the road. That image of me - the wonderful mom who is always gentle and never raises her voice - dissolved in the silent tears that began to track down my face.
We approached a patch of green where on solo walks I’d been known to see a rabbit hopping about. This is where I made my deal with God. I whispered to Him in my heart so my children could not hear. Let there be a bunny rabbit. Please give them that. Give me that.
I said to the girls, “Keep your eyes peeled. This is where I sometimes see bunny rabbits. And keep quiet, too. We don’t want to scare them away.”
The girls leaned out of the stroller, silent and seeking out a flash of fur in the maze of thick, green vegetation. My eyes strained, praying for my rabbit to appear.
But there was nothing. I experienced a childish anger toward God. Where’s my rabbit? Where’s my children’s little piece of happiness? Where’s my sign that you love me, forgive me, and are a real, breathing presence in my life?
I was about to mumble an apology to my girls about the dearth of cute, furry things (there had been as many apologies as tears that day), but my oldest daughter said something first.
“Mommy! I think I saw a rabbit. Really. I saw some white ears poking out.”
“Where?” I asked.
“Over there,” she pointed to a patch of vegetation we’d already cruised past. “When we turn back around, we’ll check to see if the rabbit’s still there.”
Of course, there was nothing there when we passed by the same place. To me, this was a corroboratory fact that it was only a mirage conjured up by the wishful thinking of a child. But to my daughter, it was proof. “It definitely was a rabbit,” she said, “because it’s not there anymore. It must have hopped away when it saw us.”
When we returned home, my girls commented on what a nice walk it was, especially because we “almost probably for sure saw a bunny rabbit.”
I flushed with pleasure. My regrets from the day seemed to soften with the sky that was no longer an ominous gray but a peachy pink.
My then five-year-old had a fractured ulna and radius acquired from a fall at the playground. The bones had already began to heal, the orthopedic surgeon had reported at her most recent appointment. Her fingers that had escaped the prison of her big, blue cast were still slightly puffy from the swelling, but she wielded her arm as she always had. She is resilient. Her bones are malleable. Her body is quick to heal.
And, thank God, so is her heart.
I’m tempted to see my maternal missteps as global pronouncements of my failure to nurture my children right. But my children see no such thing. They forgive and they forget. Their mercy pours down on me like the spring rain that came later that same week that we had gone looking for rabbits. I hate when my raw edges are exposed and I fall short of the mother I want to be, the mother I am called to be. But it’s my children who smooth out those edges by their very love for imperfect me and their knack at seeing things - good, hopeful things - that I don’t.
While I’m busy looking for a sign from God that He loves and forgives me, my children are the heart of God Himself loving and forgiving me without me even asking for it.
Where I see everything I do wrong as a mother, they notice a lot of the things I do right - like taking them on walks at dusk in their pajamas to look for rabbits.
Where I see only wild grass, they see the rabbits.
Visit KateWicker.com for more information.
Visit KateWicker.com for more information.