Seven weeks into the new school year a new groove has formed. Life follows this new path revealing once unseen landscapes and vastly different views. Yet, I can’t help but seek out the old and familiar sights. Longing for the companionship of other adult women and seeking for social outlets for my remaining lone-homeschooled child, the Bible Study sounded like a perfect blend of opportunities for us. “Bring along your children, your Bible, your journal and pens,” the Facebook post beckoned to me. It sounded like the superb opportunity beginning with the Holy Mass, ending in fellowship centered on the Word of God, and coming to a church in my neighborhood this Friday.
Daniel ran fever all day on Thursday, which meant no school on Friday and my plans for Bible Study seemed lost. I crawled out of bed earlier than usual this Friday morning at 7:45. Angela met me in the hall with bright eyes and excitement. “Sorry,” I said, “we can’t go because Daniel is sick.” She quickly offered a rebuttal that Dad was working from home today. We could still make it if we hurried. I glanced at the clock and dismissed morning Mass quickly. I was barely out of bed and my regular routine takes 40 minutes. But, I conceded that we could still make it to the Bible Study for 9:30.
We arrived to the welcoming greeting of one mother with her lively three boys and waited for the others. After some time, we discovered that we were in the wrong room and a group of women and children could be found down the hall, already finished with the kids’ craft and Bible story. Beautiful women, beautiful children and such a great opportunity being offered; yet, as I sat there I could hardly contain the anxiety welling up within me. My own two children were calm and at ease with the coloring pages, but the activity in the room was proving too much for me to handle. I tried to listen as one mother explained the hope for what the new group could become. Something about rotating responsibility for overseeing the children while the other mothers met for discussion in an adjacent room. All I could think was (and pardon my expression), “hell no!” My energy was completely drained in a matter of minutes from the simple, normal activity of young children. I attempted to explain why I couldn’t/wouldn’t be able to oversee the children, but just felt completely awful about not being able to take a shift every other month. After all, we only would be meeting every two weeks. I politely thanked them all and truly enjoyed making their company, but I desperately needed to head home. By the time I walked out of the room, I could barely walk. This was not where I needed to be. Not any more.
God has a way of stripping away our false identity in order to reveal our true selves–the self He created and wills. My identity has been so closely tied to young children and mothering for so many years and now it is not. I have a heart for mothers with young children because I know the struggles and joys so well. But, for some reason God is blocking this path at this time in my life. He seems to continue to refocus my energy to self awareness, self love and self care. He knows that if I am in a room where others are struggling or children are in need, that I will pour my energy out to them and leave nothing for myself. I know it too. That is why my energy drained so quickly. My body sensed it, and like a frustrated spouse throwing up his arms in exasperation, my body let the energy drain from itself as if to say, “Your going to give it away anyway, so what’s the point?” But, I’m not. I won’t be going back. I will pray for the success of the group for the other mothers and their children. It is a beautiful apostolate and truly needed, especially for homeschooling mothers. I will, however, continue this journey of self discovery and for the opportunity for Angela to socialize while her siblings are at school. While I will fondly remember the beautiful landscape of roads once traveled, I will try to embrace the ever changing landscape before me in each and every moment. Part of me grieves for my old, familiar self: always a baby in the arms or a toddler on the hip (or both). But, I know that I am called to serve another purpose now, to serve in a different capacity for the sake of God. In the proper time, He will show it to me.