Pondering Motherhood and Vocation

Being in the hospital a second time was so hard. What I really wanted to be doing was cuddling and nursing my Benedict in my big blue rocking chair, reading to my girls, and getting lots of naps. Instead I found myself mostly alone in a tiny hospital room, waiting, waiting, waiting. My nursing time with Benedict was limited, as soon as he was done actually eating, I was supposed to put him back into the bed so he could get the maximum amount of time under the lights and we could get back to home as soon as possible.

I had plenty of time to think, though, sitting there and waiting. One thing I pondered was this piece by Katherine, who is also nestling her newborn and reevaluating her priorities.

Katherine writes:

When considering prioritizing one’s time, the first consideration is necessity. Where does Google Reader and Facebook fit into the category of need? I have wrestled with this question for some time now and as much as I hate to admit it, the online community fills a need in my life. Being a stay-home mother as well as a mother who educates her own children, modern life can be downright isolating….

[snip]

… If I want to have daily interaction with like-minded women, the online community best meets that need.

Like all good things, we have a tendency in our fallen state to make the goods of creation an end in themselves. Food is good and necessary for our existence, yet we must moderate our intake lest we become consumed by the passion of gluttony. Likewise the online community is a good thing, but we can become so consumed in the activity that we neglect our own needs as well as the needs of those around us.

Like Katherine, I find this online community fills a need for me right now. My sisters-in-law are lucky enough to have their needs filled by local community, one belongs to a women’s prayer group at her church and the other belongs to her local Catholic homeschooling group. Each has her own network of local Catholic mothers on whom she relies for fellowship, prayer and support. Much as I wish I had that here and now I don’t and so for this season the circle of women I’ve met here online fills a similar need. And yet Katherine is right that it is all-too easy move beyond moderation and to allow the good take over and overturn our priorities. I have found in the past that bringing my newborn home means having to re-evaluate everything, schedules, priorities, rhythms and rituals and plans and also a good time to re-evaluate how I spend time online.

But that was not what I started out to say in this disjointed post. Here’s the real crux of my musings: Alone in the hospital room with a sleeping baby so close and yet not nearly close enough, I missed my little girls. Although, I know they are in good hands with my mother and sister, yet I know that no one can truly replace me. And as I longed to be home with them and knowing that I am that presence in their lives, the place that no one can replace, still the experience of missing them brought to mind all the times I’ve been physically present and yet failed to be spiritually present to them.

I know I will need to work on that in the coming weeks as they struggle to figure out what this new baby, this new person in our family, means to them, as we all sort out how his presence changes our family. There will be some discomfort at the changes and displacements and some sadness as old ways pass away and new ways are born. It will be especially hard for Sophie who I won’t be able to lift for some weeks. And yet an opportunity for me too.

I am already learning how to soothe two small girls to sleep while we all curl up in my big bed with a nursing baby on my lap, two little heads pillowed on or near me as I read until Sophie nods off. (And once Bella too!) Then someone else has to carry Sophie to bed. It is hard to make accommodations, everything takes so long and juggling three children while I am still recovering myself is especially hard. Still, I know that I have a few more weeks grace to learn this new dance before I am left on my own without the extra hands I currently need. I am trying to be grateful and graceful as I accept help and accept that I cannot do all I want to do right now.

Sacrifice and balance. It all comes down to having a heart willing to die for my children and having the wisdom to know how to dance this dance of motherhood avoiding all of the extremes and finding the appropriate middle ground.

11 Responses to Pondering Motherhood and Vocation

  1. Renee July 24, 2009 at 9:09 am #

    It seems that my little one was two weeks old yesterday, and yet she is 4 months old already.  I can almost smell Bene’s sweet newborn aroma from here.  Kiss his sweet little head for me!

  2. Melanie Bettinelli July 24, 2009 at 9:24 am #

    I know, she’s so big!

    I wish I could capture that newborn smell and put it on the blog.

    Consider him well-kissed. It’s good there’s no such thing as too many kisses because Bene is drowning in them. His sisters both adore showering him with kisses. It’s the first thing they both do every morning. Not to mention how many i drop on his little head.

  3. The Bookworm July 24, 2009 at 5:26 am #

    Love the photos, especially Sophie and the blankie. And I am very impressed by the nasturtiums!

  4. Sharon July 25, 2009 at 12:40 pm #

    I really look forward to visiting your blog every day.  The pictures of the children are lovely.  One of my favourites was the one with Bella imitating daddy by rubbing her back against a doorway.

    I used to burp my kids that way too.  There is nothing like newborn baby smell and the warmth of their little heads against your lips.

    Do you snip the nasturtiun leaves and put them in the salad?

  5. kate o. July 25, 2009 at 1:32 am #

    he is such a cutie.  congrats on the new babe!

  6. Melanie Bettinelli July 25, 2009 at 5:51 am #

    Sharon,

    I didn’t realize nasturtium leaves were edible. I just read up on them at Wikipedia and some other sites. Very illuminating, thank you.

  7. Elissa July 25, 2009 at 8:36 am #

    You have such a beautiful family, Melanie! I remember reading that original post with Bella in the brown dress- remembered your comment about the collar not staying down. It surprised me that I’ve been reading your blog that long, I mean, just look at Bella now!

  8. Sarah @ This Heavenly Life July 27, 2009 at 8:58 am #

    Oh, those baby pics…so sweet!  My 1st daughter also fell asleep like that, adorable. 

    And that picture of Sophie with the blankie under her little ‘o’ shaped mouth is precious!  Both of my girls carry blankies, and something about it is so precious smile

  9. MrsDarwin July 28, 2009 at 12:42 pm #

    Gorgeous pictures!  All of mine burped and fell asleep in the sitting position.  We used to call it the “old man sit” because they’re so wrinkled and hunched over they look ninety years old.

  10. Elizabeth@Frabjous Days July 28, 2009 at 5:07 am #

    Gorgeous baby! All that hair!

  11. JoAnna July 28, 2009 at 6:36 am #

    Such beautiful children!

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