Apparently being a mother of two makes me a “glutton for punishment”

At the end of a library trip, our two sons and I carried a stack of books to the circulation desk and slid them onto the counter.

As I fumbled in my purse for my library card, the boys worked to turn the books over, jostling each other to try to help get the books ready for scanning.

“How old are they?” the woman behind the desk asked.

“5 and 7,” I said, pulling out my card as our boys wriggled with excitement about the books we were taking home.

She looked down at them and frowned.

“Glutton for punishment,” she said.

Her words stopped me cold. What she said went right past our sons, who were still happily waiting for her to scan their books. But her outspoken criticism of our family hit me hard.


In the heat of the moment, I didn’t respond. I was so flustered that I just wanted to get to the car and go home. But, if I could go back in time, this is what I would say:

I wish you knew how overjoyed I am to be the mother of these little boys.
You see them as a nuisance and a burden. I recognize them as gifts from God who will, we hope, grow up to be men who serve and lead and love.
Is every day as their mother a breeze? Of course not. But I remember life before motherhood, and I’d happily take the hardest days as a parent over the easiest days before I become their Mama.
That journey to parenthood wasn’t easy. For years my husband and I hoped and prayed and worked to become parents. We were fingerprinted and fingerprinted again. We went through interviews, a home inspection, and piles and piles of paperwork. It was worth it.
When we first saw their pictures, we cried. We looked at those photos for months before we flew to the other side of the world to hold them for the first time.
Every single day since then we have stopped to thank God for bringing these children into our lives, for allowing us to be their parents.
They are active and excited and curious and loving.
They see the world through eyes of faith, and they challenge us in our beliefs, as well.
They greet new experiences with compassionate hearts and minds open to the possibilities each day brings.
They are individuals with their own concerns and questions and aspirations for the future.
They are best friends. They wrestle and act out imaginary scenes and stay up late swapping jokes and giggling into the covers.
They are our sons. They are our world. We are honored, humbled, and so very blessed to be their parents.
If being the mother of these two extraordinary children makes me a glutton for punishment, I’ll take it—with pleasure.
I just hope someday you discover for yourself how much joy this kind of “punishment” can be.

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Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.