I had the pleasure of attending a meeting with young moms a few evenings ago. I’ve been honored to call many of them friend. Their dedication to marriage and motherhood is heroic. I would include my own daughters and daughters-in-law in this category.
I am a mother of five married adults, grandmother of eleven kiddos here on earth, and several others I hope to meet one day in heaven. Looking back on my mothering experiences, I frequently had the distorted memory of mostly having it together. It’s funny how time can fade many of our foibles. Each child had his or her unique personality, challenges, and talents. It is hard to believe they came from the same household, entrusted to the same zany parents. However, I came upon an old journal and was amazed at how frequently I was overwhelmed and at wits end. My husband traveled weekly for work, so it was mostly just them and I doing our best. To add to the mayhem, I would stretch myself thin with volunteering or little jobs I thought helped us financially. I was juggling more balls than I knew how to handle. Despite our laughable parenting prowess, ignorance of the latest pediatric trends, and being far from family, we did great. When I say “we,” I mean God who continuously compensated for our inadequacies and errors.
There is a plethora of advice for new parents. Moms who wear the visible sign of something beautiful growing inside usually get blasted earlier and more often. “Back in my day, dear, we just let the kids cry it out in the barn while we milked the cows.”
Umm, okay. Thanks?
Now, there are podcasts on everything from infant nutrition to proper scolding, and I dare not enter the twilight zone with the current absurd madness.
Parenting can be so overwhelming but equally fascinating and rewarding.
I sensed the emotional and physical exhaustion these women bear, yet they were so joyful being moms. They are more intelligent than I was, understand the essential nature of relying on God, and are more connected with other moms for support. They give me such hope for the future.
I am reading Fr. Jacque Phillippe’s small book “Searching for and Maintaining Peace.” I wish this would have been written years ago so I could have inhaled its wisdom. It is packed with valuable insight for everyone.
“Our minds are sometimes so clouded over by that which is not going well…that which (according to our own particular criteria!) should be different in our own situations, that we forget the positives. Moreover, we are unable to profit from any aspect of our situations, even the aspects that only appear to be negative, in order for us to draw closer to God, to grow in faith, love and humility. That which we lack is, above all, the conviction that “the love of God turns to profit all that he finds in me, the good as well as the bad…Rather than try and rid ourselves of them at any price, they could be splendid opportunities to make progress…in saintliness.“Finding and Maintaining peace, Phillippe, 44
As a young mom, I took their normal negative behaviors as a personal afront. I did not realize that all of it could have been an opportunity to purify and strengthen my weaknesses. Rather than being a harried crabby puss, I could have been growing in peace and holiness. Had I, at my bedside, the brilliance of this little book and an understanding of that tiny paragraph, I believe I would be sporting a halo by now. He goes on the write,
“We don’t have enough confidence in the Wisdom and Power of God. We don’t believe that he is capable of utilizing everything for our good…”Phillippe
One can quickly realize this book is for everyone, not just moms. Striving for inner peace benefits all of us. He offers many examples and aids towards obtaining this precious peace.
“We must be convinced… it will be for us a source of immense strength: God may allow me to occasionally lack money, health, abilities and virtues, but He will never leave me in want of Himself, of His assistance and His mercy or of anything that would allow me to grow increasingly ever closer to Him…”Phillippe
As I think about those times in my early life as a parent, I rarely relied on God for assistance. I just assumed what I was dealing with was too small to bother Him. Sure, I lifted a rare prayer and went to Mass, but mostly I relied on me. Hence, my continual state of feeling powerless and exhausted. Despite that, God used all the situations to draw me closer to Him. When those little ones turned into teens, that’s when my knees hit the ground, and I poured over the beads with abandon. My receptivity gave heaven permission to generously pour its help on us all. God was doing some of His best work on us collectively. Things began to change when I finally abandoned myself, our marriage, and our children to His care. Afterall he is their Father. They are only on loan to us to raise and do our best to make sure they know Him, their heavenly Father.
Much of a mother’s effort takes place in the invisible confines of the home and in the wee hours of the night. Yet due to their constant love and care, quietly working in the background, our families grow robust. As a bonus, our country gains well-grounded future citizens and leaders.
What happens or does not happen in the home impacts us all for good or ill.
We owe an outstanding debt of gratitude to mothers, (and dads of course). Instead of making unkind comments about the number of their children or carbon footprints, encourage them. Realize their contribution to mankind. Next time you see a mom struggling to do her best, thank her for her sacrifice and love. After all, those kids will one day make decisions about your future. Thank you, moms of the world. We appreciate you!
“Train the young in the way they should go;
even when old, they will not swerve from it.”Prov. 22:6