Friday, July 31, 2009

Made to be His Mother

I was thinking today about what the word "mother" means. I was struck with a profound thought: "mother" may be one of the few purely universal terms left.

I was fundamentally changed by motherhood.

In fact, prior to my first pregnancy, I was actually prochoice. Though I never would have considered an abortion, I believed in a woman's right to choose what happened to her body. While I still believe abortion is a WOMEN'S ISSUE, by day 17 of my first pregnancy I had a dramatic paradigm shift in my own life, and today I remain passionately -- albeit not freakishly -- prolife.

I know the day both of my boys were conceived. I know the price I paid physically so they could thrive. I know there is nothing more important for me to do than mother.

Eleven months after delivering Adam, I was taking my Feminist Philosophy class at St. Catherine's in St. Paul. We were -- of course -- discussing abortion.

The majority of women in that class and the lone male were positively pro-choice. They scared me into silence. They so vehemently believed in a woman's right to choose, they were in tears. I absolutely and willfully refused to make eye contact with anyone.

And then.

All eyes focused on me as my professor said, "Kari, you're a new mother. I'd like to hear your perspective."

With my eyes closed, I explained what it felt like to know there was a new life growing inside my body. "I knew he was growing there before I felt him move," I explained. "All I could do was lie on my back with my eyes closed and even then I couldn't stop the vomiting."

I was playing the piano at a pro-life event the first time I felt him move.

I watched the awe and wonder on my husband's face the first time he felt Adam move -- and again when he watched Adam's birth.

I fell in love with my husband -- or recognized love for what it was -- when I woke in the middle of the night to find him cradling my infant son in one arm, a plastic bowl in the other, and resting on a few bath towels (the only things left after a long night of vomitting and diarhhea).

I watched my son take nourishment from my body for the first twelve months of his life.

He was alive from the moment of conception, with a sophisticated system functioning well enough to take what it needed from me.

He deserved the protection of my body for the brief time it took to grow into viability.

He thrived on the nourishment my body provided in his first months of life.

I was made to be his mother.

I said it again, "I was made to be his mother."

When I opened my eyes, I could see that not many of those women could relate to what I was describing.

I'm not sure it matters.

I'm not sure we can mandate responsibility with sexuality or the sanctity of life.

All we can do -- especially as mothers of sons -- is teach respect for both life and the gift of sexuality.

I hope the mothers of daughters do the same.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I can hardly imagine having the courage that took. While "not many...could relate" I'm sure Truth found a place somewhere in their hearts. Hopefully with God's grace it will bear fruit some day. I've had enough "dialogue" with pro-choice people to understand it's truly a gift to recognize the value and dignity of the human person at every stage of development from conception to natural death. And sometimes all we can do is pray, God harden not their hearts.