At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Today’s Gospel is a sober one.
It is no exaggeration to say that I was not prepared for motherhood. Some might find that surprising, given how much time I’d spent with children — especially the year I spent in Senegal, teaching ESL — before I was married. I did not realize just how relentless, exhausting, and … well, all-consuming motherhood would be. Marriage, either, for that matter.
That’s not to say I regret my decision to become a mother. Only that I discovered early on that — like many things in life — motherhood is one of those things for which one can never adequately prepare ahead of time. There are too many uncertainties, too few guarantees. Even the best-laid plans are only just that: plans. The reality is often something quite different.
Some time ago a mother wrote to me about her sister, who was contemplating the possibility of adopting the siblings of the troubled child she and her husband had foster-adopted. I urged her to welcome the new member of the child with open arms, despite his obvious challenges — but to urge her sister-in-law to make sure a bond had formed with the newest member of the family before expanding the circle further.
I’m happy to report, my concerns appear to have been unfounded. Bridget (the sister) writes to me: “I just wanted to let you know that my SIL and BIL have adopted the additional 4 children totaling 6. They are all adorable and it really seems like a match made in heaven!! St. Raphael has helped them and through his novena and anointing oil from heaven and our priest’s blessings the little boy has changed for the better.”
Are you contemplating a challenge — whether it be adoption, homeschooling, or welcoming a special-needs child — and feel unequal to the task? Making an informed choice is important — nothing can be gained from closing your eyes to the facts. But leave room for God to surprise you. If you feel the pull of the Spirit, like the wise virgins, be prepared . . . be ready . . . and do not be afraid.
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