Our Mister Moo (yes, that's what we call him when we aren't saying his name!) is the most amazing and remarkable baby we have ever beheld. I know many parents (if not most) feel this way about their children--but I hadn't really expected to feel that way about my own. I am an old school skeptic, occasional pessimist, and my way of coping with challenges is often to contemplate the "worst case scenario" as a means of hoping for the best whilst preparing for the worst. So, my approach to newborn parenting has been one of anticipating loads of fussiness, sleep deprivation and crankiness (on our parts!). While we have daily fussiness and I am sleep deprived and I we do have our cranky moments--they are all eclipsed by the rapturous love we have for this little creature. We are consumed, we are smitten. And, I am bemused...
I am bemused because my prayer life as the Mama of a one month old has devolved into my nightly prayer of "Please, God, let him sleep, oh please". It is perhaps the most fervent prayer I have every prayed and it is delivered with greater consistency than any other form of prayer I have ever undertaken (my apologies to those who thought I was using my maternity leave to fully embrace the daily office). But, occasionally in my prayer life I have moments of revelation...moments in which my prayer transcends the rote and I feel that I am most earnestly pursuing a relationship with the Divine. And, this prayer of a tired mama's desperation, is so grounded and so based in a sense of my own humanity and my desires for my child that it really does seem to enter into that "Buberesque" place of the "I-Thou". My relationship with Mister Moo is so focused, so intertwined (as I tighten the sling that holds him tightly sleeping against my chest) that I cannot help but feel the presence of God.
Being a Mama is making me a better priest...and each day of building this relationship (with my spouse and with our child) is transformative. In Cranmer's liturgical depiction of the "journey of the heart" there is the sense that our hearts are continuously journeying towards and drawn to God. This parenting, this Mama'ing, is truly a journey of the heart--the simplest yet most difficult journey I have ever embarked upon.
(I will post at another point about how in the process of parenting we are constantly deferring our own needs, wants and desires...and that in this deference I see salvation history at work!).