Mother Emily


As I head down the straightaway of my last trimester, those around me expect that anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed by motherhood will set in. I don’t just mean people around me, but every mommy blog, book, and spammy email mentions this anxiety that must just be eating me up.

I don’t feel it.

Not about motherhood, anyway. Now, my new job, about that I feel plenty of anxiety. Am I completing enough tasks? Am I taking enough initiative? Am I outgoing enough?  A funny thing occurred to me as I reflected on the source of my anxiety — and the assumed source of anxiety — I’ve been preparing to be a Mom for as long as I’ve been preparing to be a priest.

At the very least, my journey had begun by 7, when my youngest brother was born; I remember sitting on the couch, feeding him a bottle. I remember playing with him while Mom made dinner. I relished being big sister, little helper. It didn’t end there, but I babysat and nannied all the way through graduate school, let alone mothering my dozen younger cousins. I’ve got babies down pat (*disclaimer: I do not suspect that I have the emotional, psychological, physical-marathon part of motherhood down, but I’m not worried about feeding or diapering or “breaking” little Charles).

And since I was 7, when I underwent believer’s baptism, I’ve been trying to listen to God through Scripture and prayer and wise people and anywhere else. I’m at least equally “prepared” for both of these vocations. So why is the one — the new job, and not the new baby — causing such upheaval inside me? (haha — the new baby has caused plenty of literal internal upheaval, but that’s not what this blog is about)

What if it’s because I grew up seeing one of those vocations lived out by women, and one of them not? Women were clearly made to be mothers. Were women made to be priests? If I am certain of God’s call to me to be a priest, and I am, why would I have any more anxiety over it than over being a mom?  It can be easier for me to doubt those intangible claims on my life rather than the physically-manifest ones. There is a baby for whom I am his mother. He is a living body in need of the care I can provide (one could say the same of a parish — a living body in need of care that I can provide).  No doubt, in the months and years to come, I will question God’s wisdom in putting this call to be Charles’ mother in front of me, but perhaps I can remember — as I must remind myself of my call to this present parish — that God has put this call on my life, and he will sustain me through it.

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