As I ponder the differences between the two genders of male and female, I realize how subtle our differences really can be – almost mysterious, one could say.
It’s not quite as clear cut as is often thought. So often I have thought of the differences as roles and responsibilities, rather than temperament, but that has changed as we have evolved, and our culture has changed.
We were created equal and yet intrinsically different.
Yet, we can all be nurturers, encouragers, teachers, providers. There is a role that only a woman can fulfil and that is of “mother”. I think this can take on many forms, there are the obvious journeys to motherhood, such of birth and adoption, but I think there is also one of community.
A sweet niece of mine just had her first baby and with the updates through the night of her labor, I was taken back to those moments when I too labored, delivered and met my babies. Oh, such sweet moments that somehow block out the memories of labor and recovery. To take in the precious and deeply personal moment of meeting your baby is not where it ends, however. I continue to meet my child as the person they are becoming, and who God is calling them to be.
I certainly wasn’t prepared for that immense joy and beauty.
There are moments when I see or hear something that allows me to witness my child at his or her very core. When I hear my eldest singing to a praise and worship song unaware that I’m listening, I see her true essence. I get a glimpse at her soul uniquely worshipping God. In contrast, when I see one of my boys joking with a team-mate (or opponent) during a tennis competition, I see how he beautifully and skillfully builds friendships and develops community – I start to see his essence as well just in a different way.
This awareness of witnessing children at their core is something I strive to take into my role in supporting the Youth Faith Formation in my parish. It is such a privilege to be part of these young people’s journeys to and with Jesus. However, we can take this out into the world. I want to strive to encourage all children I am privileged to meet, whether it’s one of my piano students or a stranger at the grocery store.
It’s not that men can not do this, but there’s something that seems so natural to a woman of encouraging and engaging all children we are privileged to meet as our Mother Mary does us.