My wife and I had the fortune this past weekend to have a little down time or alone time as I had to visit the city to take care of a personal matter. So we took advantage of the opportunity and did a little light shopping and dining at some of our favorite places. At one of the shops, Missy found this sign, and she so playfully asked me to take a picture of her by it. She knows she really is a big deal to me, my favorite person in the world. I don’t often get her all to myself so it’s a special time when I do. I believe God intended for marriage to be this way originally, and since the fall, for man and wife to enjoy each other’s company and companionship no matter if at work or at leisure.
She’s often very busy tending to our seven children while I toil away by the sweat of my brow to provide for our family. I got a bit nostalgic this week when I was on Facebook and saw a friend post something about a favorite 90’s song. I really enjoy high-quality music of several genres, and I find that music is very powerful in that it can take you back to where you were in your mind when you heard that song maybe regularly or for the first time. So this brought me back to the 90’s and what was going on with me at the time. I married my girlfriend (as I still call her) in 1990, and we quickly proceeded during that decade to bear 4 children. I say “we” because I was heavily involved in the process, caring for her in times of sickness, working together rearing the children, keeping the household in order, etc. Of course the next decade, we had 3 more children, and now we have quite a full house.
As I think of Missy and the beautiful person she is, I am captivated. Those who know her know why. She is so genuine and loving, caring for all those around her. She is one who can really lift a person up, no matter who he or she may be. I am reminded of St. John Paul II’s letter to women, Mulieris Dignitatem, where he refers to a “feminine genius.” The Holy Father says “In this sense, our time in particular awaits the manifestation of that ‘genius’ which belongs to women, and which can ensure sensitivity for human beings in every circumstance: because they are human! - and because ‘the greatest of these is love’ (cf. 1 Cor 13:13).”¶30
St. John Paul spends a great deal of time in this document on the vocation of women to motherhood. He says “In this openness, in conceiving and giving birth to a child, the woman ‘discovers herself through a sincere gift of self’…Scientific analysis fully confirms that the very physical constitution of women is naturally disposed to motherhood - conception, pregnancy and giving birth - which is a consequence of the marriage union with the man.”¶18 I reflect back on the last 2 decades as we were having children, how Missy gave of herself in many months of morning sickness and discomfort in order to give life. It was a beautiful experience through the whole process of pregnancy to delivery. Thinking back it seems this may well have been her time of greatest vulnerability and weakness, and therefore her time of greatest need of my strength both physically and emotionally. She needed the comfort of knowing I was there to care for her and support her in her weariness and fatigue.
As our children are getting older, Missy is still mothering them all each in very different ways. As St. John Paul says, she has “sensitivity for human beings in every circumstance.” She was noticing in recent weeks that in the upcoming school year, she will only be teaching 4 of the kids. This is quite a bit of change as she had got to as many as 7 at one time. But even for our graduates she is seeing to it that their needs of a mother are met. She encourages them, prays for them, advises them, and talks with them. She’ll drive them to work or to classes and make sure they have whatever they need as they approach these new ventures in their transition to independence.
This is all very admirable and enjoyable to see. Through all these experiences, she has a lot to share with other mothers of all ages. She’s doing so now with ladies from across the country and around the world through this Apostolate. Her videos and blog here on this site are quite popular. This is yet another manifestation of this sensitivity to all people St. John Paul speaks of in women. When I was doing my discourses on Mulieris Dignitatem a few months ago and discussed the document with her, she lightheartedly proclaimed, “The Pope said I’m a genius!” I would have to agree with him.
As I said earlier, it’s nice to have some quiet time with her as she is so occupied in her duties of her state in life. I’m sure she would say the same of me. But this genius she possess spoken of by the Holy Father, is most particularly applied to me. The “sensitivity” she shows to me is especially inspiring. I am reminded of the creation of the original woman Eve. God said “Let us create for him a help like unto himself (Gen2:18 DR).” I have heard a lot of discussion over this term of “helper” or “helpmeet” and what God truly meant at this crucial point in the creation of humanity. One of the best descriptions I heard was the term “sustainer.” That would be the ideal description of what Missy is to me. She sustains me, enlivens me, and keeps me going. The confidence she has in me, the respect she has for me, and the way she depends on me as her husband calls out the strength and energy in me. I make sure to take very good care of her not to push her into endeavors outside the realm of her responsibility and gifts. I encourage her to do the things that will inspire her and avoid the things that will wear her down. I work and care to sustain my sustainer. It truly is a reciprocating relationship we have. As I think about it, she really is a big deal.
God bless you+