One of my first glimpses into life at Maggie’s Place was the packing list sent out for my interview. “Bring something you don’t mind getting spit up on!”
Throughout the past few months at The Zechariah House, I have been spit up on… a lot. I have come to the conclusion that you can learn to love the spit up. This realization came to me in a homily given at daily Mass. I was exposed to a lesson from the life Stephen Colbert, “You have to learn to love the bomb.” You have to learn to love the spit up. Haven’t we all had moments where it feels like life spits up all over us?
The biggest bomb in my life occurred shortly before heading to my interview in Arizona. It is in part the reason that I am at The Zechariah House in Ohio, closer to my home and family. In April of 2015, my mom was diagnosed with early-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. How could I possibly learn to love this bomb? As Colbert explains, “..you gotta learn to love when you’re failing… love the thing that you most wish had not happened…” Saying yes to Maggie’s Place was a significant step in learning to love this heartbreaking situation.
My role as a MissionCorps has been one of the biggest blessings through what has been the hardest time in my life. With my mom’s dilapidating memory, I had many worries of who was going to show me the ropes if and when it comes time to be a mother myself. I feared that my developing role as a caretaker for my mom would be impossible. In choosing to stay close to home and serve at The Zechariah House, my worries of the ability to care for others have been minimized. I am learning to care in a motherly way for the other MissionCorps, serving as a listening ear and responding with a humble heart. To the women at the house, I act as a mom in the sense of keeping them accountable to rules and caring for their needs. By caring for the babies, I am learning what a “hungry cry” sounds like, and that not all diapers can withstand the explosions of a breastfed baby, as many moms come to realize.
I have seen the most beautiful lives come from the most broken. Women come to us because their pregnancy came at a time of crisis. A time where society has looked them in the face and labeled them a failure. Many of the moms have faced life’s spit up through addiction, abuse, homelessness – but with their basic needs met, they learn to acknowledge and love their dignity and self-worth. Many of them may have wished that their pregnancy did not occur. But they choose to come to Maggie’s Place. They choose life. They choose to learn to love the bomb, to embrace the spit up. They are the reason I am gaining faith that someday I can be a strong mother too. I can learn to love the thing that I most wish had not happened.
Even on days where the moms are arguing, it’s 8:57pm and I still have to clean the bathroom, and I am on my 4th overnight shift in a row, my time shared with the moms, Corps, staff, volunteers, and babies of The Zechariah House is and will continue to be a gift. I have found a home to which I am always excited to return after days off (even if it is 9am on a Saturday). A home where my nurturing skills are put to the test, and I am able to allow my love to pour out into the lives of all who enter the door. A home where broken hearts are made whole; where Divine Providence can, did, and will provide all that we need to learn to love any of life’s spit up that comes our way.
By Katie Marshaus, a MissionCorps member