A comment last night on a post from a while (“On the Family,” an excerpt from Go in Peace, by John Paul II) back has had me thinking a lot about children, and specifically the blessing of children. I’ve said this before (“Children Are a Blessing”), and it’s not exactly rocket science. But I need to work it out some more, so I hope you’ll bear with me as I do.

My life is better because of my daughter – not because I ever wanted to be a mother and not because being a mother was ever a goal in my life. I always considered myself “in the now,” freed from the burdensome ticking of a clock, ready to pursue my REAL dreams and goals in life. How could I have time to be a mother? It just didn’t fit into my life.

Looking back, I see that I had two problems: a hard heart and a problem with authority. (Perhaps those are the same problem.) I was not open to children. I remember, back in college, in my days of carousing, actually picking up the phone book and looking up “abortion.” You see, promiscuity and freedom were tied together. What was wrong with my lifestyle? Not only was everyone else doing it, I was having a great time. Or was I? Could the drinking have been an escape, the search for sex a way of hiding from who I was, the dangerous lifestyle a path away from the true freedom of authority.

My heart was softened slowly, over time. And there was the small white casket. There was the way my husband was so tender with me, before we were ever married, the trust he placed in my ability to be a good mother (which is only possible because of God and him, I assure you!). There was the example of my mother-in-law and Susan. There was the Blessed Mother, who touched me in a special way on a special Mother’s Day.

Children are a gift. Nowhere does God ever refer to children as a burden. Never do we hear children referred to as the great saddlebag for our journey through life. They are gems from heaven, and perhaps we need to remind ourselves of that more often. In our “freedom” from fertility and our “progressive” femininity, we buy into the lies that chain us to earth. If Jesus called the little children to Him, and reminded us to be like children, why do we not surround ourselves with children?

I’m still not a baby person, but in being a mother, I have found capabilities within myself that I never suspected. My husband assures me that he’s not surprised. I’ve also seen a transformation in my husband, and I’ve realized how much children strengthen marriage.

As we celebrate the Christmas season and give gifts to one another, we reflect on the nativity scene, centered on a baby. God gave us a Gift, and at Christmas we cuddle Him and smile at Him. Later, He’ll grow up, but now his reminder to me is to say “thank you” for the gift in my life, including the modified sleeping schedule, the burden of extra chores, the many things I’m tempted to complain about. In the manger, I see reflected hardship and sacrifice, and the lesson is joy, which might not make me happy in the short term.

I never intended to have children. Everyday, I thank God that His plan isn’t limited by what I intend. I’ll take the gift! Lord, help me to see Your blessings for what they are.