The Special Gift of Being Mom
If you ever feel distressed during your day, call upon Our Lady. Just say this simple prayer, “Mary, mother of jesus, please be a mother to me now.” I must admit, this prayer has never failed me. – Mother Teresa
Simple Thoughts for Moms
Becoming a mom is possibly the greatest gift bestowed on a woman. Birth itself is a miracle. And then the mom is given an even bigger gift – nurturing and caring for the littlest of God’s children without really knowing how it will all turn out. Being a good mom isn’t easy. New surprises appear just about every day. Every age brings new challenges. New growth is constantly coming forth.
The following few points should help support and nourish moms in their goal of being great Catholic moms. Trust God gives you what it takes - Matthew 6:34 All moms worry. They worry before the baby is born. They worry about every little thing that could go wrong after the baby is born. They worry about the “big kid years” at school, with friends, with outside- of-school activities, etc. They worry about the teen years and its new set of challenges. And worries continue right into adulthood. A mom’s job is really never done. But as Catholics we believe God is with us every step of the way. It should be a great comfort to moms that they can take their worries to God in prayer and place their children in God’s hands. God never promised to make parenthood easy but He does promise to “be with us always, until the end of time” (Matthew 28:20)
Every day can be a Holy Day
Every new day gives us the opportunity to celebrate God’s presence in the most ordinary and seemingly insignificant events. Getting together at the family table and sharing a meal together as a family can be a very sacred time. If we can keep the TV off then it easily can be a time of bonding and love. Even the brief hug and kiss goodbye when you drop your children off at school can be a blessed moment. Praying, not just at meal time but especially at bed time, or on the way to Church or school is a simple way of instilling God’s constant presence in our children’s minds. Tracing a simple cross on the child’s forehead last thing at night or before they go to school can help to give the child confidence. Noticing nice things about God’s world and other special moments of the day develops a sense of wonder and reverence that will sustain their faith for years to come.
Of course the very best way to celebrate our Catholic faith and love of God is to participate in the Holy Mass each Sunday (Sat.) together as a family. The Church calls us to celebrate Sundays and Holy Days with our parish family, the Body of Christ. Help each member of the family to prepare a gift for the offering each week – a gift that comes from them and represents them. After Mass intentionally set aside Sunday as a family day by events such as sharing donuts in the Parish Hall, a special breakfast at home, a trip to the beach or a park, a family round-table chat at evening meal which might include what we learned from the message at Mass, naming some of the blessings and challenges of the past week and thoughts on the upcoming week. Take time to be together to grow in faith as a family.
Be a Good Mother, Not Perfect
One of a mother’s most difficult tasks — nay impossible, apart from God’s help — is weaning her children and transferring their source of life, comfort, and home to Another. In all her loving and comforting and making home, she is simply a pointer to a better one, a lasting one — a home where she already has one foot in the door, a home she testifies to by her own goodness.
But are we good mothers?
Christian mothers are supposed to be good mothers — happy in God, while loving and disciplining our children — because of Jesus. Yet often we’d rather celebrate our failures as a need for more grace than to rehearse, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness” (Psalm 37:3).
That goodness is a fruit of the Spirit seems forgotten among jokes about our mom fails and laments about how impossible it all is (Galatians 5:22). The pursuit of goodness is often quickly rebuffed as works-righteousness. But is it? Not if our goodness is the result of Another’s goodness. This imputed goodness is Christ’s, and through faith he increasingly imparts it to us, where it grows to decontaminate and purify our mothering hearts. His grace makes mothers good.
Questions for Moms
When God gives us children, he answers a lot of questions in our lives — even ones we may not have thought to ask. Questions like:
What should I do with my life?
What’s it like to give my body up for someone?
How attached am I to privacy?
How selfish am I when giving feels forced upon me?
Does my faith hold on during the third night or third week or third year of sleep deprivation, or is it a product of my ability to string together rational thoughts?
Do I trust my husband as a father?
How weird am I about food?
What strong opinions do I have about clothing? Sleepovers? Education? Extracurricular activities?
Being a mom brings it all to the surface. It reveals a more truthful version of ourselves, not because we were previously being untruthful, but because we now are shaping a life for someone else, not simply ourselves.
Mothers are making decisions every day that can and often will impact another person’s entire existence. This pressure to make sure we don’t mess up our child’s life is pretty intense. It creates some heat that tends to wear us down to the core of what we really believe about God, ourselves, and the world.
Single You Versus Mom You
To take the pressure off, some turn to a stream of constant uplifting messages about motherhood. All encouragement, all the time. In this endless propping up, there are no bad moms. Every mom is imbued with sainthood the moment her motherly state is attained. In this maternal mirage, moms are the sole proprietors of hard work and sacrifice.
I once heard a pastor say that it was impossible for a mom of littles to be lazy, because of the constancy of the young one’s needs. Perhaps it was true of all the women in his life; I don’t question his sincerity. But it always stuck with me because I knew it wasn’t really true. It is possible for moms of littles to be lazy. It is possible for moms to be bad moms. I need not look any further than myself for supporting data.
We may be doing more work as a lazy mom than we did as an A-student, but that’s like comparing riding a bike on the sidewalk to driving a mini-van down the interstate. Our standard isn’t student life anymore; it’s mom life. The small humans under our wings require care twenty-four hours a day. So when we slack off, it matters, even if our slacking off seems small compared to the way we used to be able to sleep for eight hours in a row, or stop for coffee, or hang out with friends.
I don’t mean that we should devote every waking moment to our children and disregard all else. I’m talking about true selfishness: the choice to ignore the fight in the playroom in favor of five or ten or a hundred more minutes of social media, or phone time, or a book, or Netflix binge, or a workout. The choice to treat our children like a group or a herd rather than as individuals with unique needs, including a need to have a day-in, day-out, one-on-one relationship with their mom. The choice to see their chores and contributions as something we’re entitled to have them do — to make it about us instead of their well-being and growth.
The Curse of Shame and Guilt
Yes, bad mothering is real, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the forms it can take. But it is one of those things that creates so much shame and guilt in mothers that it is rarely talked about except humorously or as a confessional of self-pity.
Why so much shame? Why are mothers the most guilt-ridden creatures on the planet? I’m not completely sure, but I think the pressure of daily sustaining tiny people’s lives may have something to do with it. The acknowledgement that we’re messing up seems like the worst thing we could say about ourselves in light of the weightiness of our soul-shaping, life-preserving occupation. We know that our actions or inactions could set a course for another human that is marked by pain or sorrow or self-loathing or failure, and what if it lasts longer than not just a lifetime, but into eternal torment?
So we tend toward these false choices: either acknowledge the serious nature of our job and potentially be crushed under the weight of it, shrug it off as no big deal so our failures don’t really matter, or lie about the great job we’re not doing.
Where Good Mothers Are Made
At this point, Christian moms are used to hearing, “You can’t ruin your children! God can save them despite you!” And that is true, and I am so glad that God can and does see fit to save the most unlikely of sons and daughters. I am so grateful that he did it for me, and that none of us or our children are beyond his reach.
But rather than soothing our fears by minimizing our God-given calling to be good mothers who bring our kids up in the Lord, we can only truly be free of fear, guilt, and perfectionism at the foot of the cross. It’s at the cross that we lay down our indifference to the work set before us in shepherding eternal souls in favor of full investment and commitment to the job. And it’s at the cross where we share the yoke of the burden that work creates with the strongest Person in the universe, so that we are not crushed under its weight.
At the cross — where we go to die, and live — we can actually die to bad mothering and be raised a good mom in Christ. Our job as a Christian mom is huge and serious, but that doesn’t mean we’re meant to carry the heaviness of it alone. We bring it to Jesus, whose yoke is easy and burden is light (Matthew 11:30).
You Can Be a Good Mother
Can God save your children despite you? Of course. But if you’re a Christian mother, he means for you to play a part, a good and integral part, in the story.
Does being a Christian mother ensure your child’s salvation? By no means. But rest assured that if he saves your children, he intends to use you as one of the pointers to his glorious saving face.
Christ’s goodness transforms our hearts and actions, and makes them good. It is not because we’re better or because we’ve earned it, not because we’re no longer sinful. We aren’t the Savior; we’re his ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20). We know the goodness of Another. We can be good mothers because we’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good and now we give tastes of him to our children as the goodness pours out of us (Psalm 34:8).
We can be good mothers because Christ has laid down his life for us so that we can lay down our lives for them. We can be good mothers because we have been forgiven our sins and can forgive our children their sins (Matthew 6:14–15). We can be good mothers because at the foot of the cross, we can get the grace to repent and turn from every sinful thing we do and be filled with his Spirit. And the fruit of that Spirit is goodness.
We can be good mothers only and always because of Christ.
The Blessed Virgin, Perfect Example for Mothers
As Christ hung dying on the cross, he placed his Blessed Mother under the care of his apostle, St. John the Evangelist. “Behold your mother,” Christ said to John, and by extension, Jesus said the same to us. Mary is our spiritual mother — the most loving mother the world has ever known because she counts as her children all of humankind.
The Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said, “Every person carries in his heart a blueprint of the one he loves.” And among Catholics and Orthodox Christians, no saint is more beloved than Mary.
I suppose all mothers both know and yet do not completely know everything about their children — this was especially the case for Mary. That God chose her from among all women to be the mother of the savior was a mystery that, during her earthly life, she never entirely understood. In his Gospel, St. Luke tells us that Mary pondered, or meditated upon, this mystery in her heart. To look at him, her son Jesus was in every respect fully human, except that unlike us he never committed any sin. Yet he was also fully God, which he first revealed at a wedding at Cana when, at his mother’s request, he spared the bride and groom embarrassment by changing water into fine vintage wine.
We can imagine Mary’s pride when Jesus began his public ministry and by his teaching showed the world the way to salvation, and by his miracles showed God’s compassion and mercy to a sick, suffering world. We can also imagine her intense emotional agony as she followed her son as he was humiliated, tortured and crucified. There is no more poignant image of Mary than the Pietà — the heartbroken mother holding in her arms the body of her lifeless child. Any parent who has lost a child knows exactly how Mary felt at that moment.
Today in the great shrines of Lourdes, Fatima and Guadalupe, in parish churches, chapels and oratories, in some silent corner of the heart, millions call on Mary for help. She is, as Blessed Pope Pius IX said in 1851, “the best of mothers, our safest confidante … the very motive of our hope.”
The major feasts of Our Lady are:
• Jan. 1 (Mary, Mother of God)
• March 25 (Annunciation)
• May 31 (Visitation)
• Aug. 15 (Assumption)
• Aug. 22 (Queenship of Mary)
• Sept. 8 (Nativity of Mary)
• Sept. 15 (Our Lady of Sorrows)
• Oct. 7 (Our Lady of the Rosary)
• Nov. 21 (Presentation of Mary)
• Dec. 8 (Immaculate Conception)
In addition to being the patron of mothers, Our Lady is the patron saint of women in childbirth,
nuns, religious vocations and of countless cities, towns and countries, including the United States, under her title the Immaculate Conception.