The Day I Realised My Children Do Not Complete Me
11.15am: A thought vibrates loudly in my mind – I am incomplete without my children.
This early Sunday morning started out like any other, with the exception of a small but crucial difference: the Husband had been in terrible pain the whole night post-surgery to remove two wisdom teeth – one protruded to meet the other lying just beneath the gum.
Some deft logistical move on my part and the day snapped into action:
8.30am: We whisked the kids to grandparents’ as they were scheduled to be, but only at 12pm after Mass.
9.00am: Augz and I waltzed into Q&M Dental at City Square Mall, the headquarters, mother of all venues for tooth-tortures.
9.40am: Augz goes in for a review.
10.00am: He comes out with much hope for a more pain-free afternoon and we make our way to Mass.
10.30am: We arrived at our parish, the Church of the Holy Spirit, eagerly anticipating hearing a homily for the first time in too long. The last few weeks have been horrendous as we spent time in the cry room due to a very screamy Emma. And let’s just say the cry room is the sort of place that distracts me with sin as I wonder at (and judge?) parents who absolutely pay no heed to the ongoing Mass – not those struggling to pay attention amidst the cacophony contributed by my daughter, but those who find it the place to chit-chat and have a snack while they’re at it.
So we arrived at our parish knowing we will have a wonderful Spirit-filled time celebrating Mass without our kids in tow… a short-lived wish that ended upon learning that the RCIA is having its Rite of Sending then.
10.40am: We made our escape. I’m not sure why we avoided the Mass since the children weren’t there to provoke us… but I think it was part anxiety that Augz’ pain would return when the painkillers wore off, and part desire to have more hours free this afternoon.
11.00am: We were seated at the Church of St. Francis Xavier, Augz’ homeground where he had first encountered community and Spirit.
Looking around at the parents holding on to strong-willed little ones trying to squirm free, I was hit with an instant pang of remorse. We have never attended Mass without our babies before (except for Assumption last year). I felt terrible for not bringing them to Mass this week; I missed them so much, and the thought I had never wanted to acknowledge came to mind, hot and sharp and focused: I am incomplete without my children.
It’s not an acknowledgement I ever wanted to make, for I know my existence should not depend on my children alone. If anything, I firmly believe I should only ever be incomplete without God.
Unfortunately, I had no choice but to acknowledge that thought today.
11.40am: The offertory procession made its way down the aisle to the altar, with the children who had left for Liturgy of the Word now returned and trailing behind. Augz and I looked at each other and smiled a little tearfully – we were both moved that the parish welcomed rowdy children and made that welcome felt.
The choir began its offertory hymn: “The Summons”, an RCIA song for me, as it was a song that had been sung way too often when I was seeking baptism with the Church. It is a song I know well, and one which brings many memories of finally finding the destiny I didn’t know I had been seeking.
Augz said: Well, it’s like we didn’t run away from the Rite of Sending! We’re enjoying the RCIA aspects of the Church here.
Me thinks: There was a time serving in the RCIA completed me, even as I used to pray to God to let me serve Him through ministry work, rather than to serve the ministry.
As the song went on and we sang with all our hearts, something changed within me.
As I went up to receive communion, and once again felt the blessing of cradling Jesus’ presence in my palm and heart, I knew I was well-fed at this Mass, a sanctuary I had seemingly lost week after week at Mass with the children.
11.50am: I knelt down to pray. My heart was on fire, and my soul was ripped apart to let God in. I was in pain and I wanted to cry, but it was as it should be. All I could whisper was “Thank you” repeatedly.
And a thought flashes through my mind, bright hot and cutting a sharp path through all others that clutter and confuse: I am complete with God.
At that point, I still missed my children the same way I always do when they’re not with me, but I know I am not incomplete. I never was, even if I had forgotten that fact and believed otherwise.
I have ever only been truly incomplete without my God. And since finding Him 11 years ago, I have never felt isolated.
It was an eventful morning of tooth-terrors and naughty choices that led us to a home away from home; there was some pining for the hearts of my heart, a lot of praying, marvelling and singing… and after all that activity, comes the best that was saved for the last – just plain, sweet old Surrender.