“Human beings are not born once and for all the day their mothers give birth to them, but life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.” ~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez
“I know that I’m not the person that I will be…I am still becoming. I see this in my work, my marriage, my relationships…they are all in the process of becoming.
I see this in my child. Jessica turns 21 years old”….TODAY! “My baby, toddler, teenager…. now, a young woman. Jessica has always been who she is and yet she is becoming.” (Earlier post, The Grandeur of God: Beholding and Becoming)
“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” – Elizabeth Stone
I’ve known her since before she was born and today she turns 21. We mark this day because it’s a huge event for her (something to do with laws and alcohol 🙂 ), but I have been marking and celebrating each day since I knew of her existence (9 weeks in the womb, 9 months in the womb, 9 days overdue in the womb) and every day since, in her becoming (first word, first day of school, first soccer goal, first boyfriend…)
Sometimes I have wanted her becoming to hurry up and at other times, to slow down. I imagine this is the same for her as well. But Jessica’s becoming, the unfolding of who Jessica is, has been in its perfect time.
At 21 years old, Jessica is all those little Jessicas that are on the SoulCollage® card I titled, “Jessica Becoming”. Each of the Jessica pictures capture the essence of her spirit.
As an infant, there were glimmers of who she was, laughing a big belly, baby laugh every time our cat and dog would chase around the house, tackling each other. The first time she laughed, at 4 months old, was watching them wrestle and body slam each other to the floor. In awe, I wondered—how did she know that was funny? But she did.
There is one very specific moment, forever etched in my memory, when I knew I was beholding the essence of Jessica. As the years have flown by, I have reflected on it, knowing that I was witness to the beginning of the unfolding of Jessica.
The moment: As a newly mobile nine-month-old, Jessica raced to crawl away from me when we were out visiting a friend. Seeing she was going too far away from me, I encouraged her to return with a lilting, “No, no, come back here”. She turned around, little fanny in the air, a sparkle in her eye. As she looked at me looking at her, she flashed an enormous smile and then crawled away, even faster than before. The same smile with the same spirit that is on her face in every picture of “Jessica Becoming”.
This is the Jessica I know. Even then I delighted in her sense of joyful humor and independence. She was determined to go somewhere that she wanted, but secure knowing her mom was right behind her, waiting, when it was time to turn around. True then, true now.
Ordinary, Sacramental Days
Mothering a child holds both the routine and ordinary, the special and spontaneous. I am so grateful for the sacredness, the sacramentality, of our mother-daughter relationship.
But there are days my daughter and I simply bump into each other. We rush around each other in the bathroom that she, her dad and I share in our temporary dwelling, irritated with the lack of sink space for each of us; rushing to our work; texting each other with important information, no time for deeper conversation.
But even in the moments of hurried days, I behold this child that has grown, and who is becoming right before my eyes. I look back upon the moments and years of her life and am grateful that I have been present in the sacrament, the grandeur of her becoming. I have not taken one moment for granted.
“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” – Rajneesh
I journey with Jessica in her becoming. As she grows, I grow; I re-center, re-set and adjust to our new way of relating. I am learning and re-creating the role of mother as Jessica is becoming. We are both becoming.
A Birthday and Becoming Blessing for Jessica Morgan Gehr:
May you always know that you are God’s creation, unfolding more each day. Accept and honor that you are enough no matter what you do, where you go, who you are with. Be at peace as each moment you become more of who you are, the essence of Jessica—still, now and always becoming. I wish you a wealth of learning, pondering, celebrating and beholding. May you see the grandeur of God in and around you!
When Jessica was just a toddler, I created a bedtime prayer that I blessed her with each night . As she grew older, and not always home by my bedtime, we said it less often. Some nights, in a hurry, it was shortened to “God bless Jessica’s mind, body and spirit. Amen.” Still it remains my prayer for Jessica as she continues to become, giving birth to herself over and over again, becoming more herself.
God bless Jessica’s mind so that she make good decisions and choices.
God bless Jessica’s body so that she grow strong and healthy and safe.
God bless Jessica’s spirit so that she know the love of God and others. Amen. Happy 21st Birthday, Jessica!
To be born again is not to become somebody else, but to become ourselves. -Thomas Merton