Goose Island State Park-"Big Tree"

Goose Island State Park-"Big Tree"

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tot Theology

I remember a moment I had with my own mother, shortly after my first child was born: we were sitting in the hospital and I was completely enraptured by every facet of my daughter—her tiny hands and feet, her perfect nose, her lips, her smell, that downy soft hair—and I turned to my mom and said to her, “Mom, I never knew you loved me this much.”  She looked at me with the most blissful "I told you SO!" expression and said, "Well YEAH!!"  Having my own children has made me love my parents more now than I ever had in the past, for the simple reason that I can finally grasp their love for me.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of a “Domestic Church,” wherein the home is a model for the Universal Christian Church.  (There is more information about this concept at Since some of my many vague New Year’s resolutions included doing more catechesis, reading, and generally better mothering for my children, I’ve been musing about this concept sporadically—between laundry folding, de-cluttering, carpet scrubbing, and booger wiping, that is.

(Before I share these musings, I want to clarify that my thoughts are in no way sanctioned Catholic theological points, just mere ponderings of a humble baby Catholic convert.)

I once read (or heard?) that a mother’s and father’s love is the first comprehension of God’s love that a child experiences. Consequently, it should be the parents’ duty to love their children in the same manner (or at least a teensy fraction of the manner) that God loves His children.  In raising my own babies, a preschooler and a little rug rat, I have been, like most parents, confronted with some of the more profoundly trivial annoyances and pleasures of daily parenting and have found myself wondering if God sees us in the same light:

For example:

I am constantly in awe of my preschooler’s affinity for television; no matter how much she already knows that viewing time is limited in this household, she always asks to watch her cartoons first thing in the morning, after breakfast, after lunch, before nap, after nap, after dinner, before bed. Constantly. Must watch SuperWhy! This leads me to ponder:

            Does God wonder why we constantly want the things that aren’t fulfilling? Does he wonder if we’ll ever learn “the rules?” Does he wonder why we want to fill our days with mindless, only somewhat entertaining endeavors that are ultimately harmful and empty? 

I can’t say for certain, but I’d be willing to bed that our Heavenly Father invented the eye-roll for a reason.

The baby is teething, as she should be!  As I watch her suffer, cry, bite anything and everything within reach, and struggle to get to- and stay- asleep, I wish I could somehow communicate to her that everybody needs teeth!  Everybody uses them to be able to chew and digest real food!  I want to tell her that although it is painful right now, she will be very glad for those big Irish chompers in a few months, and for her whole life!

I can’t help but wonder if God wants us to understand the same thing,
            …when His children feel the temporal effects of sin, or when we have those painful, uncomfortable pangs of conscience that remind us of what is right, reminding us that His plan is so much better, if we’ll only be patient and wait so that we can digest “real food.” And when we suffer, whether financial, physical, or emotional—are those circumstances not grown-up versions of painful razor sharp teeth making their way through soft tissue?

Perhaps our souls are just “teething,” and we need to be patient, in order to be able to relish in the “meat” of our faith? The ability to enjoy real food comes with a sometimes-painful price.

           More powerful still is the notion that I would do anything to protect my children.  I love them with a love that is more fierce and passionate than a hurricane.  When they stumble, we don’t look at our children with disgust or judgment, but with compassion—we rush over to pick them up, brush off the dirt, to kiss the owies and to comfort with a hug.  When our children make mistakes, we gently reproach them and explain how they can do something better the next time around.  When they misbehave, we discipline-and sometimes punish-out of love, because we want them to succeed at this thing called life. 
            If our own flawed human love for our children is that powerful, imagine how much our Creator-Who is perfect in every way-loves His children!

Lets allow our Heavenly Father to mold and shape us into the eternal beings we were created to be!  Let’s stop the whining, endure through the teething, and rejoice in the immense love He has for us!