Mothering, pregnancy and birth are the most intimate expressions of creative collaboration with God.
I liken a mother’s “yes” to life to the self-donation of Jesus Christ’s gift of himself in the Eucharist.
It’s a visible sign of God’s kingdom on earth.
Co-creating with God’s own design to raise a child is a most honourable endeavour.
So much richness exists in the encyclical Amoris Laetitia – The Joy of Love – where Pope Francis celebrates motherhood in particular, in paragraph 168 we read:
“A mother joins with God to bring forth the miracle of a new life. Every child growing within the mother’s womb is part of the eternal loving plan of God the Father: Each child has a place in God’s heart from all eternity; once he or she is conceived, the Creator’s eternal dream comes true.”
The current popular trend in society is to look down on the role of mothers as if it’s ‘behind the times’; I would argue that motherhood on the other hand, is constantly prophetic and creative.
Mothers and fathers are participating in the Creator’s dreams coming true.
The vocation of motherhood forces the culture and society it sits within to keep propelling forward as mothers and fathers nurture their young and raise them to engage with the world of today.
“Motherhood is more than childbearing; it is a life choice entailing sacrifice, respect for life, and commitment to passing on those human values which are essential for a healthy society,” Pope Francis said in January 2015.
Engagement with the current modern world is not optional.
Whether the family is thriving in each generation is like a litmus test for how we are going as a society, as a church.
So in this generation of motherhood, how are we valuing this sacred role in our world? Do we really understand the vital role women have to play especially in the early years of the young life?
Being a mother, isn’t a job, it’s a person, beginning with early attachment and feeding, being present, face to face gazing upon your baby, this is all crucial to building up your child’s potential.
Becoming a mother we also learn so much about the powerful gift of human dignity.
Babies do not just need physical needs met, there is development happening on every level of their being.
Dr Maria Montessori speaks of the 0-3 year old, “…as a result of careful study, I have come to the conclusion that the first two years are the most important in the whole span of human life”. (The Absorbent Mind, p. 4)
She goes onto say – “there are many who hold, as I do, that the most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first season, the period from birth to the age of six”. (The Absorbent Mind, p. 21)
Formation about how crucial the early human years are has helped me make sacrifices for my child and honour my own vocation and let this experience shape my life.
Family is known as the domestic church, as a community of believers, in Familiaris Consortio St John Paul II writes, “to the extent in which the Christian family accepts the Gospel and matures in faith, it becomes an evangelising community”.
An evangelising body not only unto themselves where parents evangelise their children, but where the children also evangelise their parents.
Children have a huge capacity to show us unconditional love and reveal God’s truths.
We are called to conversion within our own domestic church and our children help us to achieve it.
Here in Australia we are on the rise with many women experiencing maternal isolation.
I was shocked, when I had my first baby, to learn how quiet the streets and parks were during the weekdays.
I was not living near my family at the time and isolation happened for me.
It is an occupational hazard of any caring profession.
So we need to continuously turn this around for our young families and whenever we can, celebrate and honour what a new family is achieving by nurturing a little one.
We have a huge responsibility to respond to the great call of St John Paul II to build a civilisation of love.
The building of this is mostly expressed in the home, within our family relationships and through hospitality to others.
I see so many families taking up this call right here in Brisbane, mums and dads being their best selves, sacrificing their own lives, their own time for their children, “wasting time on them”, as Pope Francis said.
Every action of love and care within your family is making a difference in the world.
So keep going mothers and fathers, your work is noble, to be praised, it is mostly hidden, it’s an accumulation of a million small actions of love, so keep believing that you are seen by your Heavenly Father, your efforts are not going to waste.
The evangelising mission of the Church depends upon it.
By Carrie McCormack