Motherhood is all it’s cracked up to be

By  Catholic Register Special
  • May 8, 2014

To honour Mother’s Day, The Catholic Register asked five Catholic moms to offer a brief reflection on motherhood.

Together, they have compiled an essay of love and selflessness that pays tribute to their sacred vocation.

BY DOROTHY PILARSKI

I always look forward to Mother’s Day. I love breakfast in bed, the gifts, the flowers, the homemade cards. I relish in the graces of the day. But my mind also goes back to childhood memories of Mother’s Day.

I remember fondly taking part in an annual Mother’s Day recital hosted by my home parish, St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, run by the Oblates of the Immaculate Mary in Toronto.

The Felician Sisters would organize an event after Mass that honoured the vocation of motherhood. Children would recite beautiful poems celebrating the tenderness and love of a mother, musicians would play songs on the depth of a mother’s love and prayers would be offered to thank God for the gift of our mothers.

Oh, yes, they never forgot the flowers. Mothers were showered with flowers and a formal blessing by the pastor.

There was sacredness in the celebrations of the day and I was deeply moved by participating in these recitals. They stirred within my soul such gratitude and longing to become a mother. In the Polish culture, while I was growing up, mothers were revered, the vocation itself considered sublime.

I learned that becoming a mother meant not only embracing a long list of motherly chores and lining up photo opportunities of happy moments, but becoming a mother involved to a level of accountability before God. It’s a stark contrast to modern secular Mother’s Day celebrations which, at times to me, ring hollow.

Very recently, my mom, from her death bed, announced, “The only thing I have ever wanted was to succeed at passing down the Catholic faith. To have children who practised and lived their Catholic faith from the bottom of their hearts.”

How different the world would be if all Catholic mothers made passing down the Catholic faith as their life’s priority?

I don’t know if I am the only mom who thinks that sometimes the world is completely upside down. It appears that some mothers make everything except motherhood a priority in their lives. It drives me crazy!

I was edified recently when a friend on Facebook posted this as her status: “My number one goal as a mom is to do everything in my power to help my children get to Heaven. This ultimately is all that matters. Pray for your children every day, teach them our beautiful Catholic faith and help them develop a wonderful relationship with Jesus and His Blessed Mother. Your children will be eternally grateful.”

Maybe we should bring back Mother’s Day recitals.

(Pilarski is the author of Motherhood Matters: Inspirational Stories, Letters, Quotes & Prayers for Catholic Moms.)

BY LETICIA VELASQUEZ

April Smith is a woman whose life was devastated in a recent wave of deadly tornadoes that swept across the southern United States. Before the storm, she was so proud living in her new home with the red door, happily watching her two young sons enjoy their new yard.

Now she lies in a hospital bed, battered by a storm that swept away her home and sons, and says that God is good. She says her sons have fulfilled God’s purpose in their lives and have gone home.

She is my hero.

Mothers like April who praise God in unthinkable tragedy possess a peace I thought I could never have, a perfect submission to the will of God. But thanks to being the mother of a little girl with an extra chromosome, who has been shaping my character over the past dozen years, I am a tiny bit closer to that kind of faith which assures us that God works all things to the good.

When our third child Christina was born, her Down syndrome threatened to shatter the picture- perfect life my husband and I had built over a decade of marriage. We had two lovely daughters in a little house by the sea, our family close by and a close-knit Catholic community around us. We were sure God loved us. Then we had this special-needs child who demanded more of our time than we thought we could give. Her needs caused us to question our parenting.

They stretched our ideas of what was acceptable, caused friction between us and some of our neighbours and wreaked havoc with the comfortable life we cherished.

Christina was like a storm in our lives, upsetting our idea of comfort, challenging us to change. We were mystified when we read that special needs children are considered extraordinary blessings by their families.

Then, as we asked God why He chose us to be her parents, and awaited His answer, He began to change our hearts little by little. He showed us that life was not about peaceful circumstances and warm feelings but it was about becoming heroically generous.

Our love for a girl with innocent love for God and her neighbour has worked wonders in our hearts and we are so grateful.

(Velesquez is co-founder of KIDS — Keep Infants with Down Syndrome — and author of A Special Mother is Born.)

BY ANITA HEALY

I sit in my rocking chair, with the soft glow of the moon on her face and the sweet scent of her delicate skin and I am overcome with love. Love that springs tears. Love that compels me to whisper words of praise and thanksgiving to my God, words of desperate supplication: Lord, don’t let anything ever happen to her. Love that wrenches my heart and hurts like no other pain. I will do anything for you, my sweet baby. And then the fear: How will I ever be enough?

When I heard the heartbeat of my unborn child for the first time I experienced a deep and profound change in my heart. I knew and understood more clearly that my existence, my purpose, my vocation was to serve. God was calling me to a life of sacrifice and service. That is to say, a life of love. My life wasn’t about me any more. It wasn’t about my goals, my preferences, my comforts, my hobbies. My life was about love.

By calling me to motherhood, God was calling me to love as He loved, by laying down my life for my children. For them. For Him.

In the words of Blessed Mother Teresa: “Love to be real, it must cost — it must hurt — it must empty us of self.”

In this culture, those words are hard. To some, they are offensive, even unacceptable. This life-giving love begins with my spouse and extends to the children God has given us. In that shared love, we live out God’s design: as we become one flesh in marriage, we mirror His image and likeness, which is a perfect communion of Love.

The world tells us that we should not deny ourselves, we should put our needs first and that we should take what we want to make us happy. The world is filled with fear of sacrifice or suffering. St. John Paul II once said: “There is no place for selfishness, and no place for fear! Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands. Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice.”

In the quiet of my daughter’s room, I am enveloped in a deep and comforting sense that God’s love is perfect, that it is enough, that I have nothing to fear. I know in the depths of my heart that I can love because He first loved me.

(Healy is a speaker, catechist and mother of six who lives in Cambridge, Ont., with her husband Michael.)

BY DONNA-MARIE COOPER O’BOYLE

St. John Paul II told us, “The family should be your place of encounter with God.”

As mothers, we need to accept that truth. Some might think that we encounter God exclusively at Mass or during prayer. But we also meet Him daily in the smiles and tears of our children. He is with us in our laundry rooms, at our dinner table, during our disagreements and also in the quiet of our home. We should consider ourselves blessed to be part of a family in which we encounter Our Lord daily. We should try to become more attentive to His presence.

Our homes are our “domestic churches.” Christian mothers should set a prayerful tone for the family. Our work inside our home — raising little saints to Heaven — is far more important than what we do outside its doors. If we pause to consider that we actually assist our Lord in creating human life, we can become more cognizant of our magnificent role as a mother. In addition to our dedication and unconditional love, our children deserve our presence.

Yes, mothering is tough work. Our culture aims many mixed messages at women, and they can cause confusion. Our challenge is to disregard the crazy expectations of a culture that is in contradiction with our faith and endeavour to follow God’s will. By God’s grace, as faithful Christian mothers we accomplish far more than we can imagine.

Mothers edify others in doing for their children what they do for them each day, very naturally. A precious and essential example is set, sometimes without our ever knowing it.

Hopefully, our example can have an impact on society and help bring back the dignity and high esteem that the vocation of motherhood truly deserves.

Being at peace with the vocation of motherhood shows on our faces and throughout our actions. It is shown by our joy, and joy is contagious and makes for a happy family and even a happy society.

As we mother our families, our hearts should sing out for joy! We are blessed indeed, weary knees and all.

(Cooper O’Boyle is the host of EWTN’s Everyday Blessings for Catholic Moms and Catholic Mom’s Cafe, and has authored several books, including Embracing Motherhood and Catholic Mom’s Cafe.)

BY TERRY MCDERMOTT

When I was 20, I told all my friends that I was never going to get married and have children. My life would consist of an impressive career, a fabulous wardrobe and the independence of a modern woman. And then I met the young man who would eventually become my husband and all of my plans changed.

Twenty-nine years ago on our wedding day, we stood before a church full of our family, friends and Fr. John Weber and told God that we would lovingly accept the children He wished to give us. The Lord took our faithful promise and gifted us with eight children and two more babies in Heaven who continually pray for us. My children, six boys and two girls, most of whom are young adults, have enriched, challenged and coloured my life with love, mercy, joy, gratitude and more than a few sleepless nights and anxious moments. The greatest happiness for me as a mom has been in learning to put others ahead of myself and trying to live a compassionate, purpose-driven, God-filled life. I continue to try and model those values for my children.

On Mother’s Day, I can expect the usual flowers, chocolate and interesting and questionably cooked breakfast in bed. I look forward to all those things but the greatest gift for me is to see my children go out into the world with compassion, purpose, faith and the sense that the world does not revolve around them.

Every Mother’s Day, I look back at my 20-year-old self and smile. What I thought I wanted all those years ago never did come true. I have managed to carve out a career but not at the expense of my children. The fabulous wardrobe never did materialize but that doesn’t matter.

Instead of independence, I have a home full of life, and a loving family that cares about my happiness. With God’s grace, my goal is to get my children, my husband and myself to Heaven. God took those young plans I made long ago and through His gift of my motherhood, He continues to turn them to good.

(McDermott is a nurse and mother of eight children who runs a small health-related business in Toronto.)

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location
Type the text presented in the image below

Support The Catholic Register

Unlike many other news websites, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our site. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.