On Saturday, I attended the beautiful wedding of two friends. During the Mass, I didn't have Tom to help me baby-wrangle, since he was part of the wedding party. It's sometimes difficult to keep Sly content in church, where all he can think about are the rows and rows of lovely pews to climb along, and all the people who would be fun to grab.
For a while, I found a solution that worked. Standing, I held him to my chest, and rocked slowly back and forth. Sly was relaxed and peaceful. When I heard the priest say, "Let us ask for God's blessings," my immediate thought was, "I have God's greatest blessing right here!" as I squeezed Sly a little closer, and gave him a kiss on his head.
At that very moment, Sly reached his little pincer-hand around to the skin on the back of my arm, and pinched it SO HARD. Had I been anywhere but Mass, I surely would have let out an, "aaaargh!" As I removed his little claws from my arm, though, it came to me that perhaps God was telling me something there. Telling me that some of His blessings are painful. That just because they hurt makes them no less blessings, and we should be no less thankful for them.
Looking just at the issue of parenthood...When people refer to children as "blessings" - which they so often do - it seems to be mostly based on the great joy that children bring to our lives. But what about the often painful ways that children help us to grow in holiness? As parents, we are forced to sacrifice much, to die to self everyday. And surely, anything that pushes us a little closer to Sainthood is a tremendous blessing from God.