There's so much nun talk in this house that I've been thinking of writing a weekly post about it. Maybe someday I'll print them all out for Sadie when she's older and she can laugh at the cuteness of her four year old self.
I've been working on this particular post for the past two days. I wrote down the conversations the day we had them... but the rest, my thoughts on her passion on this subject have been rolling around in my head for days. I finally began to form them on paper this morning:
"When I grow up I'm going to be a nun, Patrick. A Carmelite nun. And you're going to be a Bishop. And you're going to work in the cathedral. And I will be a nun and you will be a bishop and work in the cathedral. Did you know that Patrick? Do you now what a cathedral is Patrick?"
I lay back on the couch, enjoying the brief break while Patrick watched his sister entranced (Mae Bae was being put down for bed by Paul), and listening to their little one sided conversation.
"Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Patrick. And he died and he rose again from the dead Patrick. And then you were born. Mommy what kind of nun can Maggie be?" Suddenly her attention was back to questioning me. "Can Maggie be the kind of nun that Saint Bernadette was Mommy? Maggie can be a Saint Bernadette nun. And I can be a Carmelite nun like Mary Therese. I want to be a tall nun. I want to be big like Mary Therese's mother was." Apparently she was envisioning the book we'd read earlier in the day, where Saint Therese is a very little girl and her mother is still alive. "What was her mother's name? I want to be a grown up nun. Can I be a nun? If I pray very hard? Can my friend Lucy be a nun? What kind of a nun should she be? Maybe a Poor Claire? Yes a Poor Claire! Patrick, did you know that different nuns have different habits. Some nuns have blue habits, Patrick. Some even have pink!" Her monologues amaze me as she assigns every child she's ever met with a religious order and she began naming kids we haven't seen in months and wondering aloud what type of vocation they might have.
And the other conversation I'd overheard when she'd tackled Daddy and said something along the lines of: "You be the bishop so that you can say that the little four year old girl named Sadie can enter into Carmel and be a Carmelite nun and a saint."
"I want a face like a nun..." She lamented at another time on the same day. "My face doesn't look like a nun's." She continued, bringing her hands up and touching her cheeks. "It looks... It looks... It looks..." she paused dramatically.
"Like a little girl's?" I offered.
"Yes!" She replied emphatically. "Like a little girls. I want it to look like a nun's."
"What does a nun's face look like then?" I asked her.
"Yes. A nun's face is familiar."
After Sadie went up to bed I cleaned up the house and began to think over the days conversations. For two years she's been talking about being a nun and while this may surprise some of my readers, the fact is that we've been very careful whenever the conversations come up. I never wanted to be too over enthusiastic, lest I somehow push her towards one vocation over another. I've always been supportive of whatever she says, but I've always felt like I have to hold back somehow when she goes on and on about being a nun.
And I began to ask myself if I would hold back my enthusiasm because I'm afraid of "pushing her" about any other dream she might have and in all honesty knew that the answer was no.
From now on, I'm not going to hold back my enthusiasm when the conversation comes up. My answer will be the same as it has been, because it's the right answer.
When she talks about becoming a nun I always say: "If that's what God's calling you to be when you grow up, then that's what you should be!" but from now on I'm going to giggle with her about her grand dreams of being a nun and loving God without worrying about whether she's being pushed in one direction or another. Because honestly, if she is being drawn in a certain direction, it's not by us. We haven't pushed. We've sat back and watched. And maybe it is just a childhood interest that will fade with time or maybe she hears some small whisper in her heart. And I'm not going to interfere with that possibility.
We have books about saints and books about princesses and books about ballerinas and dinosaurs and pretty much any little kid related topic you can think of. And she's the one that's been asking, since before she turned three, to be a nun.
You see, her father and I, both want one thing for our children. Sure it's a little different from what the world tells us we should want, but anyone who's hung around here for long can hardly be surprised by that. We want for them what we want for everyone in this world. It's the only thing really worth wanting. We want them to become saints. And we know that they'll do that by finding the vocation that God is calling them too. I'm not worried about pushing her, when I really think about it, because I want her to grow into whatever God is planning for her. I will be thrilled if she prayerfully discerns her future and listens to God's voice as she moves forward through life, because really, can I dream of anything greater, regardless of where it takes her?
I don't want her to be a nun. I want her to seek out God's plans for her life. If that means she sometimes is called to life in a convent, I will be thrilled (and a little sad, because I'll miss her like crazy and it tugs at my heart every time she says: "I want to go away and pray for the world."). If he calls her elsewhere I'll also be thrilled. My job is to help her grow into a person who listens to his voice and to storm heaven with prayers that she does so throughout her life.
I guess when it comes down to it, I need to stop worrying so much that other people will think we're pushing her and just share her enthusiasm in life and encourage this interest as I would any other. At the moment she wants to know everything there is about the various orders of nuns. So it's my job to help her find that information and read it to her and sit and dream with her, just like I do when she hands be a book about ballet or bugs... and my new promise is to stop worrying so much about what people might dream up because of her ramblings about her dreams, and just be her mom, supporting her passions and praying that she grows up to be a Godly young woman.