This past Saturday, the Feast of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, marked the anniversary of our son John’s baptism. I am still amazed at the many ways God and our Blessed Mother have made their presence known to us through our ongoing journey to build our family. There was certainly no plan to have John baptized on that Marian feast day, but that’s how it turned out. Our parish priest always did baptisms on Sunday after Mass and that particular year, August 15, 2010, this feast day just “happened” to fall on a Sunday, three weeks after I gave birth. In hindsight, it seems very providential, but after the bumpy crossing we had made in order to become parents, not at all coincidental.
I used to know a lot about parenting but then, as the old joke goes, I became one. There once was a time when I had answers for everyone else’s parenting issues. Today, having parented for five years, I have no answers. I don’t even have many theories. All I know for certain is that parenting is the hardest, most challenging job I have ever faced and in spite of what everyone has said, no, it is not getting easier. Instead, one challenge seems to be replaced by another.
It has taken me a while to accept this truth…that parenting does not always get easier. The level of sacrifice, patience, and consistency required of me has been way outside of my comfort zone. I’ve had to mature emotionally and spiritually by leaps and bounds over the past five years, and I have a long ways to go. I spent too many years (before children) imagining the kind children I would someday have (or wanted to have) instead of simply being open to what I may (or may not) be given. My children would be my idols. Perfect versions of a “mini-me”. My, oh my, did I have it all wrong.
Last month, my husband and I spoke with a child behavioral therapist. We want to improve our parenting techniques. We are admitting that we do not have all the answers and need help. Our children are thriving; they are happy, affectionate, adventurous little boys. But there are also too many days when we struggle to manage more extreme sides of their behavior. It takes a toll on them and on us.
In a few weeks, we begin Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). I never imagined ever having to go down this road. I never imagined being a mother who would not have all the answers to her own parenting questions. But I also did not understand that part of being a parent means practicing humility and swallowing my pride and knowing when to reach out for a little more support and help.
Our therapist is encouraging and believes that time will resolve most of our concerns. As she put it, “Most people have children who are like dandelions; they are easy to care for and require little extra effort. But some people have children who are more like orchids, and not just anybody can raise an orchid.” All my life, I pictured myself raising dandelions but instead, I seem to have been given orchids. These fragile, delicate plants that are my children have the potential to bloom into a radiant inflorescence if only I can build the proper greenhouse.
This past Saturday, we took another step toward building that greenhouse. We have found earthly help but we rely even more on the divine. On the fifth anniversary of my son’s baptism, we decided to formally consecrate all our children to the Blessed Mother. It was something I’d contemplated for a long time but never had done. Now, the time just seemed right. Now, finally, I understand. I cannot do this alone. I need all the parenting help that I can get, especially from my Heavenly Mother. I need you, Mary, to take the wheel. Together, let’s raise some beautiful orchids for God’s garden.