This week, with John out of town on business, I went to New Jersey to spend some time with our families. It’s a blessing that John’s and my parents live so close to each other, and that we are such a short distance away.
It’s always wonderful to spend time with what I guess we’d now consider our extended family: first of all for their company and endless love for Jacob, and second because there are lots of people to hold Jacob, change his diaper, help him to sleep, etc. It struck me, though, how different things would be were John not around and I was raising Jacob on my own. (Grammar check on those verb tenses, anyone?)
This was the first time I’d made the trip to NJ with Jacob on my own, and it was different not having John around, most tangibly in terms of carrying things. That giant kid plus a car seat is a heavy set. Usually John carries him the short distances we have to go, so this time around I did more of that. Not that I didn’t have offers of help all the time, but still I was more aware of John’s absence (and the consequently increasing strength in my upper arms).
I found myself wondering, not for the first time, how single moms do it. I admire and respect the women that make it work. I don’t have a full time job apart from caring for the little man, and I can barely imagine adding more to a day.
Yet one thing I’ve learned from motherhood is that if something has to happen, and you, as the mother, have the ability to make that thing happen, then it can and (most of the time) it will. Before I had Jacob, yes, it seemed impossible to get up three times in the middle of the night to feed and diaper a baby, then get up later that morning and care for him all day. But if it needs to be done, mama’s going to get it done.
This year, I’ve resolved to have greater discipline in how I spend my days, making each moment, each action count a little bit more, and not wasting time on things that aren’t really important. This was inspired, in part, by homilies I heard last November on All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day. The commentaries offered insight as to how our actions—good or bad—have consequences for the whole Church. Realizing you’re accountable to more than yourself can motivate incredible works.
Having a child makes this all the more relevant, and in some ways, easier than it would be otherwise. In my experience, doing the right thing is much easier to do when someone else is depending on me. I think that’s the beauty of motherhood, whether you’re doing it alone or with a partner. It exhausts you, sure, but it brings out the truest parts of you and asks you to be a better person, every day. This is a welcome challenge, and one I’m grateful to have been offered.