A long while back, I’d written about my individual parenting philosophy. It was a piece designed to inspire other parents to assess their own philosophy, which would hopefully help someone recognize their personal end-game as a parent.
Ninety-eight percent of the music I have listened to for the past year, aside from toddler music, has been Christian music. Listening to that particular genre enables me to listen to content I don’t have to worry about – little ears can easily ask too many uncomfortable questions when I listen to secular music.
A couple weeks back, however, the music video of Perfect Sympathy by Ed Sheeran and featuring Andrea Bocelli popped up on my radar. I fell in love with the song, recalling hours of listening to Andrea Bocelli as a teenager. I then previewed the sound of this “new to me” artist, Ed Sheeran, and purchased the first secular album in years – his album Divide. Since then, I have spent a considerable amount of time delving into the lyrics of several of the songs, prompting me to explore yet another parenting theme on my blog today.
In his song, Supermarket Flowers, Ed Sheeran explores the depth of his love for his grandmother, noting how her passing has deeply impacted him. Furthermore, suspending “theology” for the moment – or, for this post entirely – he sings about how he knew an, “angel in the shape of my mum,” and, “when God takes you back, He’ll say, ‘Hallelujah, you’re home.'”
This particular song has resonated deeply within my soul. It isn’t necessarily the words, but perhaps more the meaning behind the song.
As I focused on the words and message behind Supermarket Flowers, I realized just how powerful an impact a grandparent can have on their family. Extending past that, I began to recognize how powerful an impact a parent – and, from my personal perspective, a mother – can have on their children.
From the first day I played that song, I have spent weeks now contemplating the role I want to play for my children. A role which, God willing, will leave them knowing the depth of my love, my pride, and my delight in them.
I have been forced, through the depth of my thoughts, to question how I approach my parenthood – my motherhood.
Do my children see the best version of me? Or, do they too often see the leftovers, after I have given the best of myself to everyone else?
The central point of these thoughts go directly back to the struggle between one’s primary vocation and subsequent vocations. As my chaplain and spiritual director pointed out last year, my primary vocation is to my spouse. Being the best wife possible, even at my grumpiest, most insolent times, is what will help me get to Heaven. And, my job is to challenge my husband, through his vocation of being married to me, to meet me and join me in Heaven someday.
Second to being a wife, my secondary vocation – or, avocation – is being a mother. Being a mother, while a demanding vocation, rife with sleepless nights, messes to clean up, disasters awaiting me around every corner, is not my defining path to sainthood. Instead, my motherhood should enhance the wife I am to my husband. It should be a role I cherish, but one which orients me back to being a wife.
Everything else in my life – being a writer/blogger, perpetual volunteer, paid employee again someday, even a friend to others should enhance being a mother, and ultimately, a wife.
These thoughts point me toward priorities – does everything else I choose to undertake make me the best version of myself for those who are here to help me get to Heaven? Or, am I giving those closest, and most important to me, the exhausted, weary, rushed leftovers?
Instead of focusing on my parenting philosophy previously, perhaps I focused on the wrong set of questions.
Perhaps I should focus on the memories I want to leave when I am gone?
Perhaps I should focus on the legacy I want to impart?
Perhaps I should focus on the messages and signals I want to send my family?
Someday, I want my children to be able to understand the depth of love hidden within the song Supermarket Flowers. I want the message of gratitude, love, acceptance, and purpose to resonate as strongly within them as deeply as it resonates with their mother.
I want them to pray that God takes me up, scoops me into His arms, with the words, “Hallelujah, you’re home.”
Which means every day I must do my very best to live with my motherhood – and, ultimately, with my wifely vocation – at the forefront of every decision I make.
I must be intentional in deciding what commitments to undertake, taking note of the wife I am being, and the mother I am being at the end of the day. It may mean taking a knee from other commitments, to focus on my health, my emotional well-being, my sanity, and my family first.
Putting my marriage and children first may seem counter-cultural. It may seem a challenge at times. Yet, it is through my immediate family in which I will discover the peaks and valleys of life, hopefully granting me entrance through the Pearly Gates someday.
What is your vocation, dear reader?
How will you enhance your vocation today, this next week, or through the duration of Lent?
And, where have you most recently found inspiration in the secular media?
As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments below!