We're settling into a pretty good routine, and I am now once again bathed and presentable on a fairly regular basis, one may even say "well-groomed" for Mass on Sundays.
So, today, with baby fresh from a nap, fed, burped and diaper changed, we headed over to the church, baby in his Polo romper, Mama in her silk top, long pink skirt, full scarf veil, and Maya ring sling baby carrier. Lookin', and feelin' like a real pro.
We get through Mass without a single hitch. Whenever baby began to show signs of fussiness, Mama bounced, swayed, or pat the bum until all was well with the world, again. By golly, I even heard, and absorbed, the entire homily.
After Communion, the priest closed the tabernacle, the congregation sat back in their pew from kneeling, and I was just about to let out a deep, refreshing sigh, when my sister who sat next to me leaned over and said, "You have a 5 Month sticker on your butt."
Humility comes in all shapes and sizes. Rarely have I experienced such moments of immediate shame and embarrassment in my life - though, I have had a few. This time, there was a big difference.
My embarrassment this time quickly faded to thoughts of "I'm sure I'm not the first mom to do something so silly!" Key word: mom.
I had to smile, and later, laugh about the silliness of the situation. I joked that why, yes, my butt indeed was 5 Months post-partum, though I'm not sure I'm quite at the point of labeling it publically as such with a large, bright orange sticker. I chuckled along with family members who shared stories of things THEY had once worn to Mass purely accidentally in a maternal haze. I then even declared my humiliation on social media, to be met with the quickest influx of "likes" and comments since my 7-Month pregnancy picture/announcement. It was no longer a big deal. It happened. The humility quickly faded, leaving only the funny memory. And, the reality. I am a mom.
All those other times in my life, moments of immediate shame and embarrassment, stemmed from the burning and long-lasting opposing reality of that time - namely, that I was not a mom. Times like when I mentioned to my well-meaning priest before Mother's Day that it would be nice to include moms-in-waiting in the Prayers of the Faithful, and instead, he made an entire SPEECH at the end of Mass SPECIFICALLY REQUESTING INFERTILE WOMEN to come up along with the other mothers for a special blessing and a small gift. (OMG, I can still feel my cheeks burning and how I couldn't wait to DART out of the pews the moment the recessional began.) Other times, like when I ran into my ex-BFF at a mutual friend's wedding for the first time in 7 years, she asked if we were just "waiting" to have kids, I shared that we were going through infertility, and she responded, "What does that even mean?" Other than digging a hole in the ground (preferably under the bar, with access to the bartender), I wanted to scream, "IT MEANS YOU WIN, OK??!!!! YOU HAVE 3 KIDS, ARE ABOUT TO HAVE 4, AND I HAVE NONE, AND PROBABLY NEVER WILL!!!" These moments all had something crucial in common. They were pre-Robbie.
Life pre-Robbie was, quite frankly, much more difficult. I have said it since he's been born, and I'll say it again: I'm not painting a perfect, pretty little picture of life with child/ren. I will share more of my story when the time is right, but there is more to tell that is far from pretty. It's not about perfect. It's not about void of problems. It's not about ease of motherhood.
It's about life. My life. And his.
My life, pre-Robbie, was undefined. I was a wife, yes. I was a daughter of God, yes. But I was... unfulfilled. I had a yearning that could not, would not go away. No matter how much I tried to focus on those other areas of my reality, my life seemed to be defined by what it wasn't much more than what it was.
And Robbie's life, well, his hadn't even begun, yet. God was waiting for his time to come. And when it did? It changed everything. EVERYTHING.
Even moments of utter embarrassment will never again be the same. I welcome opportunities for humiliation, now, and I dare say even relish them. (I will check back in when my kid farts loudly in Mass, or throws a holy tantrum in the middle of Good Friday service...) But truly, the humiliation as a form of purgation is HEAVENLY compared to the humiliation involved throughout infertility. If I was the steel to God's fire, I am so blessed that much of my most painful preparation work happened already in my pre-Robbie days. I feel stronger than ever, as a mom. But I accomplished that strength through infertility.
It will never be the same, again. My life, now defined by Robbie's, will never be the same. Praise God for the perspective He has allowed me to have in carrying such a heavy cross.