It was some motherly sense of triumph to hear my sons pluck piano keys with purpose. The boys have been taking lessons for a couple of months, and they’ve moved from the elementary numbering of fingers 1-5 to notes on a staff (which is basically Chinese to me). How proud they have been to play the familiar melodies, “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Ode to Joy.”
It’s been a minute, but I’ve rocked those sweet babies and studied their perfect fingers, tiny hands clutching mine. I used to imagine some well-rested day when I would be preparing supper to the sounds of my happy children practicing an instrument. It was a beautiful dream. Suddenly, it was a surreal reality of bliss and home and family and culture. A joy.
But not every day is like this. Oh, far from it.
Just last week, my little Mozarts and I had been to the grocery store, and we were all ravenous from the day’s rush. I caved to the pleadings of hungry, growing boys and pulled through their choice of fine fast food establishment: Long John Silver’s.
Other than the contest of who was hungrier, the two had been bickering over a pair of binoculars someone had left in the backseat. As I tried to count the number of hushpuppies we’d need, I heard the unclicking of seatbelts and thuds and thumps of fists and elbows so familiar between brothers (and pirates). I tried to convey our order to through the window in an unruffled manner, but the ruckus was starting to sound more like a bar fight.
“He knocked out my tooth!”
I whipped around as my oldest spit a bloody bottom tooth into his palm. The little one squirreled away the binoculars like they were prized treasure.
After a quick check (and scolding) of the kids, I rolled forward to receive our order. Everyone in the restaurant kept peeking to see what sort of mess was having fish that night.
“Bet you’re the only person to lose a tooth in a drive through before they eat!” W congratulated his brother.
Both sat a bit taller in their booster seats on the way home, though I hunched under the weight of mothering boys.
Sometimes I smile a toothy grin to think of it, my expectations compared to the realities of motherhood. I could go on and on about how hard it is to be a parent, but I think that would negate the perfect mix of dreams realized and well, let’s call it “surprise.”
Since bouncy babies Cain and Abel, I think humanity has wondered how best to tackle this whole parenting gig. Even Mary, mother of the perfect little Lamb of God, must have questioned her parenting skills. Remember when young Jesus was missing for three days?
Today, modern moms and dads spend billions on child-rearing advice ranging from nature vs. nurture, discipline vs. permissiveness, and sugar-free vs. frosted flake-o’s. So, if you’re reading this and hoping I’ve found the way to ensure happy kids and Harvard in my near 8 years of motherhood, I haven’t.
But I have something better: Trust.
Driving the dark of doubt away, the God of glory has already given us a written guide for living, a book full of disorderly and damaged families that receive His grace. Always giving and forgiving, Christ through His Church, the Bible, sacraments, and servants teach us how to love each other, and lift us to the joy divine.
My hope for parenting comes from no ability of my own. My hope for my children does not stem from their schooling, their well-rounded extracurriculars, intentionally-planned experiences, or government leaders. Jesus, I trust in you.
And, sometimes, it’s hard.
When my child is sick, when I want to fix their every problem, when they’re destructive and disobedient, it’s difficult to know how to lead and love them best. But God the Father loves them more than I do. He loves them with His whole being, infinite and eternal. So as much as I pray for my children, I pray for trust. I pray for His guidance in my life and theirs. And I remember how the prayers of families moved Jesus to perform extraordinary miracles: the raising of the dead daughter of the official Jairus, and the son of the widow of Nain, and Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha.
Whether they’re practicing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony or in the midst of another brotherly struggle for victory, the God of glory and Lord of love is with us.
That’s music to my ears.