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The mystery of motherly love

We live in a world where the notion of motherhood is held up to such high esteem accompanied by many expectations. Even in God’s Word there is a prototype for a good woman/mother.

Proverbs 31 speaks of a household manager, an investor, a woman of wisdom, physical strength and self-sufficiency – A woman “clothed in strength and dignity…her sons stand up and proclaim her blessed”. A pretty tall order!

Well over two decades ago, shortly after being welcomed into the Catholic Church as a young adult, I found myself fortunate to be inducted into the University Chaplaincy family.

I say fortunate, because as a young neophyte, my formation was greatly influenced by the homilies of the best theologians of the Antilles Episcopal Conference.

The Mother’s Day homilies given during that time in my life, presented reflections which always resonated deeply, years before I was to become a mother myself.

Now that I am a mother of three young children (all under the age of ten), I am reminded at every waking moment, and even in my sleeping moments, that the genuine love expressed between mother and child(ren), is the closest we can come to some semblance of understanding the love between God and man. “Does a woman forget her baby at the breast, or fail to cherish the son of her womb? Yet even if these forget, I will never forget you.” (Isa 49:15). Though not the same, as a mirror image, motherhood is like light reflecting from the sun onto the moon. The mystery of motherly love, is the call to be like God, while living in the throes of human frailty.

In reality, however, many mothers, myself included, experience anxiety, feelings of inadequacy and the fear of failure. After all, whether or not our tiny humans successfully navigate a path to being happy, healthy and thriving adults (spiritually and temporally) rests squarely on our shoulders, for the most part. There is so much to be said about the responsibilities of parents in general and mothers in particular, and also about the duties of children as it pertains to filial piety…for he “whoever glorifies his mother is like one who lays up treasure” (Sirach 3:4).

But there’s an aspect of motherhood that is highlighted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2227) that is of particular interest, where, it states that “Children in turn contribute to the growth in holiness of their parents.”

This begets the question, how do we allow this vocation of motherhood to truly transform us into the women we were created to be? I sincerely believe that it begins with the acceptance that, while our children may carry our genetic material, they are not our possessions. They are in fact all at once, ours, God’s and the world’s.

As mothers, we are stewards, our children are entrusted to us by God, for they belong to Him. He loves and cares for them tons more than we ever could. Interestingly enough, this provides the breakthrough for the anxiety, the humility in accepting that we are not goddesses, but simply instruments. Instruments who must constantly seek God’s guidance, His provision, His wisdom, gifts of the Holy Spirit and His Divine protection.

All in all, this journey is not for the faint of heart, but the source of strength is from the joy of the Lord (Neh 8:10). Holding on to God’s promises, for He knows His intentions for us and our children, “plans for peace, not disaster, reserving a future full of hope…” (Jer 29:11), predisposes us to always maintain a joyful witness (Phil 4:4).

Let us pray, that as mothers, anointed by His Spirit and filled with His Word, that we become more like Him, the One who longs to gather us “as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…” (Matt 23:37).

 

Lyra Thompson-Hollingsworth is a single (divorced) mother of three, two of whom have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She is also a senior public officer at the Ministry of Health, a member of the Holy Trinity Parish, Arouca and is affiliated with the UWI Chaplaincy, People of Praise Prayer Community and the Bethesda Community.

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