Encouraging the Mommy Reflex
Although somewhere in the recesses of my memory I recall that the gestation period for elephants was lengthy, I forgot the actual number; my memory was refreshed tonight: a total of 22 months. A mama elephant is pregnant for 22 months before finally giving birth. Wow.!.
Mommies, I am becoming convinced, are magical and amazing creatures. Many human women can bear children, but there is a particular person that becomes a Mommy. That woman falls in love with her child and will do anything to preserve, protect, nurture that baby.
I don't know whether Mommies are born or Mommies are made...it just might be a slice of each. Whatever the origin or environmental influences, Mommies are incredible. The Mommy reflex is the one that is installed in a parent that makes it tolerable to change innumerable diapers and field projectile vomiting and cool febrile brows.
mommy-ness is consistently Christ-like. Kind, patient, selfless, loving. I have seen some Daddies who display similar traits, yet my eyes fill with tears when I see a photo of a new Mommy holding her newborn tenderly. No, I am not going to go into gender bending here. Jesus the historical figure was a man. Period. There is ample evidence - especially in Luke - of how tender he was toward children and the disadvantaged and disenfranchised.
We have all seen baptisms, all been witnesses and asked to participate in the spiritual life of the individual - infant, child, adult - being introduced into the the Christian life of community, prayer, worship and service. Think back to the last baptism you participated in. How have you reached out to these new family members? What can we do - individually or on a parish level - to encourage the Mommy within each of us?
Two ministries come to mind: Christian initiation/Christian education and Hospitality/Pastoral care. Preparing individuals for confirmation, being included in the process of initiation and integration into the Church is a wonderful calling. Another is doing both inreach and outreach. Establishing and maintaining an 'open door' policy in any given parish is much more involved than it may seem.
generosity of heart encourages the Mommy reflex. When we can see someone else's point of view, experience some level of empathy in another's grief or pain or struggle our Mommy reflex strengthens and becomes second nature. Jesus would be proud!