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Dear Rose,

Any day now I will get to meet you in person, to hold you in my arms and look at your small face. There are so many moments I look forward to sharing with you: reading books together on the couch, walking up Bald Hill, picking berries in the summer.

I love the name we chose for you: Rose. Even now in the dead of winter, one pink bud is still growing outside our bedroom window at home, waiting for your arrival to bloom.

On Christmas Eve, we went to Mass and listened to how a young Jewish woman gave birth to a child on a cold winter’s night. Her child would grow to save all people from sin, giving them a new life.

As I, like Mary, dream and wait for the arrival of my child, I contemplate the gift of motherhood. There would have be no Savior without a mother to give birth to him, to care for him, to teach him to pray, to help prepare him for all that lay ahead. God, in his goodness, gave an ordinary woman this astonishing role: of raising his son.

Each child conceived is an incredible gift from God: an immortal soul that will outlast this earth and the stars of the galaxies. This makes motherhood a sacred calling! We participate in God’s act of creation and formation of new life.

I have a share in this sacred act of motherhood. And so will you someday, Rose, whether you have physical children of your own, or whether you become a spiritual mother to others. For all women are called to be mothers. The heart of spiritual motherhood is in reaching out to those around us, in nurturing, growing and teaching: whether at work, at home, or in the community. This calling to motherhood in its fullest sense is knit into the very structure of our being. Of all the things you can do with your life, of all the opportunities that await you, my daughter, this gift of motherhood — physical or spiritual —lies at the center of the rose. It is the ability to give your all for the good of someone else.

Do not be afraid. The more we give away, the more we receive back, in the ineffable way of human kind. When we stop protecting ourselves and putting ourselves always first, when we give of ourselves for the good of others, then we find that elusive peace we’ve been hunting for. Then we find joy.

It’s not always easy. I know that in a few weeks, you will cry for me at night, just as your older sister did. You will take from my body for nourishment. You will reach out to be held. And whether I am tired or rested, happy or sad, I will pick you up, my daughter, I will hold you close. Because you are my child.

Take courage. We are not just mothers. We are also children. And God cares for us more deeply than words. He also holds us close to him, in good times and in bad.

My prayer for you today, as I wait for your coming, is that you will always know his love. That as you journey through this life — full of the beauty and joy of being a woman — that you will know his deep, personal love for you. A love that transcends time and place, that goes beyond your actions good and bad, that holds you in the palm of his hand.

— Mama

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Gabrielle Merritt is a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Corvallis, where she works in adult faith formation. She loves spending time with her husband and 2-year-old daughter, Avila, and she’s looking forward to meeting her second daughter any day.