Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Women and Agape

This afternoon, as I left work on my way to pick up little A, this song came on the radio:

I belong with you; you belong with me. You're my sweetheart.

Days like this, I miss my husband. A lot.

I associate this song with one of the first times I actually felt happy after we lost Romeo Gerard. My husband told me we were going to dinner; he had booked reservations at a hip and fancy restaurant in town, so we dropped off little A and had dinner to ourselves. He had just purchased the Lumineers album, and we sang along to this song all the way home from dinner.

Naturally, when the song came on the radio this afternoon, I became emotional, really feeling the loss of RG and missing my husband. It's not been so easy having him gone over the last few weeks, with four more weeks to go. (Of course, we've done this before, but I wasn't trying to parent a two year old that time.) I teared up a bit in the car, and I wanted to let myself feel that emotion for a little while.

But suddenly I was at little A's preschool, and I was going to have to go in to sign her out, and help her get her coat, and ask her 45 times to try to go potty, and wipe her nose--all the things we do every afternoon when I pick her up. I wouldn't be able to continue feeling what I needed to feel right then, because I needed to be emotionally available to little A.

She had made me a mother's day card (the irony of which broke my heart, since I was thinking so much of RG in the moments before) and needed me to let her know how much I appreciated it. She needed me to be positive and encouraging as she tried to go potty by herself. She needed me to listen to her about her day, and how she made a macaroni necklace, and lost her hair tie on the playground, and hear her sing her ABC's three times in a row, joyfully praising her every time. In other words, she needed me to be her mother, a duty I welcome gratefully because I know how fragile it is.

This situation has presented itself a lot over the past few weeks especially; it feels heavier, now that I don't have my husband to accommodate her needs if I am feeling emotionally unable. When we're together, we can tag team--emotionally and physically--to manage little A's needs while one of us takes a break as necessary. Yet without him, I am her only "responder,"  so my emotional needs are (rightfully and necessarily) set aside for her sake.

I didn't realize how true that really was until today, when I was quickly wiping tears off my cheeks, checking my mascara in the rear view mirror, and consciously changing emotional gears as I got out of the car and headed into little A's preschool.

It is a privilege that I get to pick her up, that I get to be her mother. It is a grace that I am able to swallow hard and change my attitude so quickly for her sake. It is a good and necessary sacrifice to put my own need to feel what I feel aside in order to be what she needs. And, I'm realizing, it is one of the sacrifices of motherhood. One of many. And one of many pearls in the crown of a woman. 

Because it isn't only mothers who make this kind of emotional sacrifice; and it is that very sacrifice which unites women who are physical mothers and who are spiritual mothers. It is, in a specific way, the feminine genius, and a quality that can be manifest in all women in various ways. Still, no matter the method, this sacrifice is agape. It's dying to self for the sake of another. It's love. Christ-love. And it is, very particularly, the love women are really good at giving--even when it hurts.

As the Lumineers sing so heartily at the end of Ho Hey, "Love. We need it now. Let's hope for some. So we're bleeding now." It is necessary to hope for this kind of Love in our world. In our lives. In the hardest of times. And Love causes us to bleed. But it is the best of sacrifices.


  1. What a beautiful post! Mothers show us all so concretely how that gift of self is lived...but it's a call for all of us women! I love how you put it. Your description of your own motherhood is so touching, too, knowing what you've been through. I hope the time apart from your husband goes lightning fast!!


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