As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Rock Clinging

I am a singer.  Not a professional one, or a good one.  But I always have a song on my heart.  And when I'm going about my day with the kids, I often work what I want to say into a goofy little diddy for them.  The little ones giggle, the big ones roll their eyes.  It's fun.

I have been basking in the fruits of a work the Lord has begun in my heart this lent to help me focus on those things that lead me to loose my temper quickly, and to instead offer those times to him and not give into it.  And as a result I am a much happier Mom.  There is much more joy around my house.  And therefore, much more singing.

I was changing my four-month-old baby girl the other day and singing a little tune to her.  I don't remember the words, but the jist of it was something along the lines of, "oh you're the sweetest, cutest, happiest, brightest little baby to ever grace the planet, and I'm going to change your bum now!"  She lit up and I said, "Mary, you make my heart sing."  Immediately I was reminded of the words of an old hymn we used to sing at Mass when I was in the choir at my church, what seems like forever ago:

        No storm can shake my inmost calm
       While to that rock I'm clinging 
       Since love is Lord of Heaven and Earth
       How can I keep from singing?

I was immediately grateful for the ways in which the Lord was helping me to keep my calm amidst the little storms of life, to not sweat the small stuff, so that this joy, this song on my heart, could be audible to me.  I am immensely more grateful for the little ones who reveal the Lord to me, and cause that song to burst forth. How can I keep from singing?

Not long after that, this little one got sick.  She came down with RSV, which is nothing more than a cold for older kids (two of my other kids had it as well) but can be very dangerous for small babies. It is characterized by wheezing and trouble breathing, and having had an infant (my second boy) hospitalized at five weeks with the same thing, I was worried.  When she began puckering in at her ribs with every breath, all the kids and I made an impromptu trip to the doctor to have her checked out.  That little trip resulted in a subsequent trip to the hospital and three hours in the ER to be monitored.  I was so scared when I saw everything around me.  They brought us into the Trauma unit of the ER, and immediately I recalled being wheeled into the very same spot with my second boy, his little body hooked up to all the monitors, surrounded by doctors who were administering this and testing that.  Thankfully in her case, it just happened to be a spot for us to sit.  They did little more than give her inhalers every half hour and monitor her breathing, and as she responded so well (thank God!) they sent me home with instructions for how to treat her there. The doctors warned me that she would probably get worse before she got better though.

The next day her symptoms became more uncomfortable. I am so thankful my husband is so level-headed, because I would have had her back to the hospital in a minute.  But he knew that the inhalers were working, we could both tell her breathing was helped by them.  She struggled and gagged and coughed for hours at a time on the phlegm that is produced with this virus, something they couldn't do anything about at the hospital anyway.  If I try hard I can remember being in the hospital on nights just like yesterday with my second little one, pacing the room and calling nurses in and saying, "he's having such a hard time, can't you help him?"  And being so angry that they left me alone with him, not doing anything.  It's because Jeff is right - it just has to run it's course.  It's not pleasant for her, but it's not dangerous.

I spent so much of yesterday pacing, longing to see that beautiful perpetual smile that she couldn't seem to muster in all her discomfort.  Isn't it hard to see a normally happy baby in so much distress?  I was desperate - I prayed fervently for the Lord to take the pain away.

I stayed home by myself with the baby while everyone else attended a ballet recital for my oldest daughter (I was so sad to miss it, but probably not the first Mom torn between a first for one child and the needs of another sick little one).  I hoped that maybe, when I got the baby up from her nap, she would be all better and we could all go.  But my husband was very quick to remind me that I may as well live in reality.  And the reality was, my baby needed me more.

And as I sat with my very miserable little baby, I remembered my experience of her labor and delivery, and I began to share it with her.  "You know Mary," I began, "when you were born, it was my most difficult labor and delivery.  It hurt so much more than the others, and I was so scared.  But I knew Jesus was with me, and that I needed to be calm.  It was everything I could do to breath deep through the pain, and I couldn't even muster the words of a prayer, not even in my head.  All I could say was 'Jesus, Jesus'.  And He was there.  And He got me through it."  Of course I know that this meant nothing to a four-month-old - it was meant for me.  My job as her mother is not to take away her pain, it is to walk with her through it, to help her to be calm and focused on Jesus.  Sometimes the Lord allows pain and suffering, even for the littlest ones. This is my reality for now.  And I walked with her, and sang her through the roughest patches.

        No storm can shake my inmost calm
       While to that rock I'm clinging 
       Since love is Lord of Heaven and Earth
       How can I keep from singing?

She is doing a little better today, mercifully.  She continues to be up and down, as I suppose is to be expected while this thing runs its course.  And in her struggling to remain comfortable in what I'm sure is a scary situation for a little one, I know that the best thing I can do for her is to just be with her, and be calm.  To reassure her that everything is okay, that Jesus is here - allowing this and walking her through it.  Of course, I can't communicate that verbally to her.  But I can sing, and sing I shall.

Even in our most trying times, the Lord is there.  May we always cling to the Rock, so that in times of trial as in joy, we may be filled with his resounding peace.

A reassuring smile for her worried Mama

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