By: Natalie Plumb
In high school, I always thought it was odd that my peers had dinners outside of the house, often alone. My family was always together for dinner. Conversation – and elbowing – was expected. I never realized what a gem I had, and what kind of formation I was receiving at such a young age. We were literally knitting together our lives. Our stories became one at that table; our family was a community.
We still do eat together to this day, and we did in a special way on Mother’s Day this past Sunday. I celebrate the many things my mother has given me, by accident and by choice. I also celebrate that I will switch places with her someday and become the caretaker she will need.
As I get into the routine of working life – my first job out of college! – and begin to contemplate what’s next, more and more questions begin to settle in: Will I make a good mother? Will my children grow up to have a lively faith? Will I make being with my family a priority? Will I be able to make having dinner, doing activities and traveling together a frequent occurrence? Will I be too “busy” to pray? Will my husband and I have the foundation we need to grow together, not apart?
I’m told I’m too young right now. I shouldn’t worry about it. But isn’t love the purpose of living? It’s written on my heart to think about it (2 Corinthians 3:2). These “don’t worry” people are right in that I am too selfish to truly begin contemplating a family at this very moment. I want and think that I still need lots of things before a family: a deeper faith, a more crafted dance technique, a more vibrant voice, more polished prose, more refined language skills… But God never told me to wait for all of that to happen, did He?
Because when I really think about it, that list is endless. And it will continue to be endless, even when the word “marriage” is added on to it. I try to think about how that word fits into the rest of my life. Marriage to me will never be disconnected from motherhood. This is both beautiful and frightening.
But if my mom is any indication, I should be alright. She defied the odds and had me at 39. The doctors called her “one of the oldest mothers, with the healthiest baby” back then in 1990. She worked full-time, and for a boss that would mark her tardy if she were a minute late. She sweated to give my brother and I everything we needed. There was never a day she was not there for us. There was never a day, actually, that she was not there for the students she taught, in elementary, junior and high schools.
How can I begin to imagine how much strength she had in order to succeed at being a selfless mother? How can I begin to think that I will someday have that same strength?
I turn to prayer for the family. I also turn to positive media, like Irreplaceable, the film that I discussed on a personal level last week. It was so popular that there will be an encore performance today, and at several locations in Virginia.
The documentary talks about family literally being the building block of society. I won’t go into much detail. I consider it pretty obvious that this is true. Think about it… Before businesses, before communities, before housing districts, before governments, before churches… There was family. There was a little community of persons related to one another in order to draw each other closer to their ultimate goal: Heaven.
Every member of the human race has the desire for significance, a desire to belong. And the family is where those deepest longings are fulfilled. Unfortunately, the word ‘family’ has all but lost its meaning in our modern cultural landscape … Our attempts to redefine and reimagine the family only make these problems worse, not better. When the family is weakened, society suffers. But strong families make the world a better place! –Irreplaceable, the documentary
P.S. There are some that might argue that family – and, thus, marriage – is not as clearly defined as Christians and Catholics believe it is. The blueprint for the family is getting lost in today’s culture. Without going into much detail here either, I encourage you to read Marriage Equality and the Bible: Why All Forms of Marriage in the Old Testament are Not Equal, which is an article that dissects well the marital “contracts” present in the Bible.
Natalie writes on Thursdays about faith, dating, relationships, and the in between. May her non-fiction stories and scenarios challenge you. May they help you laugh, cry, think and wonder.