When you become a mom you don’t have the luxury of seeing a future film about the twists and turns your life is going to take. You don’t know what joys, trials and tragedies may be awaiting you. You become a mom on faith.
Faith that you will weather the sun and rain that is a part of raising a child.
Faith that you will have strength for the long haul.
Faith that you will have the grace it takes to love a child more than you love yourself.
In faith we get pregnant. In faith we give birth. In faith we cry tears of joy as we look at our newborn, awed by tiny hands and feet, puckered mouth, and newborn wrinkles. In faith we adopt. In faith we see our child for the first time at an orphanage or foster home, and from eyes to heart we know this is our child, given to us at this moment for this time. In faith we find out that something is not normal with our child, in faith we move forward learning all we can about children with Down Syndrome, or Muscular Dystrophy or Autism. It’s a journey, a journey of faith.
And there are moments when you see results of your faith. First steps, first word, first prayer, first day of school, completion of kindergarten, healing from a first heart ache or broken friendship, healing from a first wound, graduation…the list is endless.
It’s a long journey; A journey of faith.
Yesterday I saw a result: I received a text from my youngest saying “It’s all good!” – he had completed all the course work required and is graduating from high school. Next Wednesday he’ll pick up his cap and gown at four in the afternoon and go over final steps of the program. We will be there, celebrating with proud grandparents who will quietly cheer as their 17th grandchild graduates.
As youngest of five kids Jonathan came into the world with instant family and no need for play groups. He was adaptable and flexible, rarely displaying a temper and willing to go with whatever was happening. He is one of those kids that is comfortable to be around, even in adolescence. (Well. Mostly.) We can sit for hours discussing life topics, things that matter.
I’ve written before about Jonathan and academics. It’s been a long journey. He is smart, loves reading and is a critical thinker. But. He doesn’t fit with the main stream learning process that demands sitting at a desk, fitting in with the status quo, and writing one hundred ‘P’s’ across the paper in cursive to show you have it “right”. Wow. Good for us. We have a bunch of kids in this country who can write ‘P’s’.
And until this year, Jonathan did not have teachers that encouraged. He had teachers who were type A personalities whose teaching careers seemed defined by the results their students achieved. He has had teachers who follow the book to the minute details and struggle to find room for the “Jonathans” in their classroom. He has had teachers who are more concerned about standardized tests than true learning. He was a statistic, caught in a bad system.
Until this fall. And this fall, by faith, we were able to move him into an extension program where he was surrounded by teachers who love teaching and love the students. He is now affirmed for who he is, not who they want him to be. He has excelled as he has inhaled Dostoevsky and Mark Twain, Kerouac and Nietzsche. It has not been easy and he has worked hard.
We celebrate the results of his work as he graduates a year early. This child who didn’t want to go to college (ever) is now excited about learning and looking into colleges and universities. He has applied to do a gap year in Oxford at an advanced studies program. He boasts a reference letter from one teacher that had me in tears with her affirmation of him as a student, of him as a person.
We become parents with no guarantees. Whether biologically birthing or adopting, parenthood is a journey of faith. Today I get to celebrate. Tomorrow I may have to cry. But that’s what this is: A long journey, a journey of faith.