The feast of Mary the Mother of God – what a beautiful day to remember all of the mothers out there and what our vocation really entails. The priest gave the most beautiful homily… I assume. I wouldn’t actually know, as I spent the entire Mass in the back of Church chasing after a very independent (or so he thinks) and energetic nearly eleven month old. Even now as I sit here typing and he tosses peas all over my otherwise spotless (haha yeah right) floor, I wonder “seriously, God??” Could this be what He intended for my life when He knew about me, even before the world began? Why did He bother counting all those hairs on my head if being a mother would just cause me to pull them out?
But then I think about what really happened at that Mass. That short, brief second, when Matthew caught a glimpse of the beautiful statue of Mary, sat back on his heels, pointed that tiny precious finger, shrieked with joy, and blew her a fishy face (we’re working on blowing kisses, we’re just not there yet). My heart melted. I’m a Mom, and I really really love it. It’s up to me to direct (not push, not ignore) this precious soul towards His Creator. It’s my vocation to clean up the peas and the Cheerios that have been many times walked into the floor, so that he knows how to serve. It’s my job to put all of the toys back in the toy bin, only to have that mischievous smile appear while the little one furiously scoots over to toss them all back out. Seriously, ALL of them. He doesn’t even play with them, just throws them around the room and pats himself on the back for the fabulous job he’s done. All of these things are my “job,” but I know that one day I’ll look back and realize that it was an honor. An honor to be unappreciated or to sometimes feel so useless because all of these things I’m doing – menial and simple though they are – are helping to shape and mold and immortal soul, the one thing in this life that actually will last forever.
It really is an incredible vocation, and I think that it was no accident that it was entrusted to women. Oh don’t get me wrong, there will be a post in the near future about the immeasurable importance of fathers, and I can’t overstate how my life is incredibly blessed by my husband, who is a selfless and holy man, but today is about mothers. Pope John Paul II was particularly dedicated to the mission of helping women to understand their true worth and dignity. In fact, as he was getting older, he was asked by someone what his greatest fear was for the world he would soon be leaving behind. His response was that he feared women would not realize their true dignity. The true dignity of a woman, the unique gift that she possesses, is to welcome and care for new life, to transmit beauty and joy to the world around her. This is what makes women uniquely capable of being mothers, and it seems to me that one of the most vital roles a mother plays in her husband and children’s lives is that of teaching them joy. I think this also happens to be one of the hardest parts of being a mother. The outward behavior of a selfless servant can be challenging, but doing such humble tasks with a sense of JOY? That’s a horse of an altogether different color. Perhaps even a different breed. It might not even be a horse at all.
A mother’s vocation is not what she does but much more importantly, how she does it. There is a pretty famous saying “happy wife, happy life” that has a good bit of wisdom behind it. Perhaps it is because women are not all-stars at compartmentalizing their feelings, or maybe because we like to share our thoughts with our loved ones… or strangers in the grocery store line… or anyone that will listen. I think if the world were comprised of only men, besides it only lasting one generation and smelling like an odd combination of week-old dirty dishes and sweat socks, the world would be a pretty anti-social place decorated with as few words as possible, and wherever possible, those few words would be substituted with grunts. Women and men are so wonderfully different, and one of those differences is how much of an effect our emotions have on our lives and on the lives of those around us. Because of this, a joyful, happy mother can inspire her family in incredible ways and a miserable, critical, jaded mother can do untold damage. This is the power we hold in our hands, ladies, I think we should use it wisely.
This is the objective I hope to focus on this coming year: living with joy. Yes, there will always be days that go on so long I swear a year has passed since breakfast, but if I can just remind myself to find joy in the little moments, the millions of precious things my child does – his hilarious faces, the spastic way he dances to ANY music he hears (including the Holy Holy Holy at Mass), and the sweet way he puts his head on my shoulder and smiles, if only for a minute, when I pick him up and hug him, I hope I can bring to my family the joy that God has called me to know. What a beautiful example I have before me in the Blessed Mother, what a gift she is to me and all mothers as a reminder of the love and joy of Christ we are called to transmit to everyone around us, starting always with our families.