Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mothers and Motherhood

I'm not good at keeping track of holidays, much less blogging about them, but since I know it is Mother's Day and can't pretend that I don' is a post about being a mother.

...I know nothing about being a mother.  That noun is as foreign to my vocabulary as...well...the word I don't know that should be inserted [here].  I am not a mom, and won't be for a very long time, if ever.  But the idea of motherhood and being a mom has been on my mind quite a bit over the years.  It is a topic that surfaces frequently when one is discerning the religious life.

"Oh, I love kids and want to be a mom; I could never be a nun," people would say when they discovered I was discerning a life of celibacy.  This was rather unsettling for me.  It implied that I do not love kids and, needless to say, I do.  I used to be absolutely certain that I was going to get married, live in a plantation home, and have twelve children.  Yet, even more so, comments like these showed a very skewed understanding of what it means to be a Sister and--by extension--what it means to be a mother.  

"Mother" is a noun, denoting a woman who has had the exquisite gift of cooperating in God's creative act.  It is one of the only privileges that the angels do not possess.  She carries within herself another human individual, and this unique and special little person has been specifically entrusted to her care by God.  She is given the great responsibility--and joy--of loving and caring for this child.

How could one not desire such a beautiful thing?  I know that many young women, thinking that they might have a religious vocation, struggle to give up the desire of being "mother".  I will be very honest: I never had this problem, and it makes me very sad when young women think they must give up the desire for motherhood to be a Sister or a nun.  They do not, nor should they.

See, while the above definition is not untrue, it is not wholly complete.  "Mother" is not merely a noun.  It is a verb.  It is not just having responsibility for another human individual--it is carrying that responsibility out.  It is caring for another person even when caring for them involves an extreme and unthinkable amount of self-sacrifice.  It is loving them unconditionally, even when one is not feeling very 'loving'.  It is loving them with Christ's Love; the noun side without the verb side is a shadow of what a mother is, of what she is supposed to be.

I realized this at a very young age.  I knew that it was possible to be a mother (noun)  without mothering (verb), largely due to my discovery of partial birth abortion at age nine.  And, having friends and family who were adopted and wanting to adopt myself, I knew that mothering was possible without being a mother.  Of the two, I deemed the verb the most important, and I realized I would never have to give it up.

"Love one another as I have loved you." We are called to love all children--all people--with the self-sacrificing love of a mother.  We are all called to mother.  The verb is the most important part, and we are called to fulfill it, not only with "our" children, but with *every* Child of God.  I never struggled with the "I'll-never-be-a-mother" aspect of the religious life, because I am perfectly capable of mothering no matter what my state.  Mothering is the most important, beautiful, and obligatory aspect of motherhood, and it was one I did not have to give up even were I to become a Sister.

Today, I would like to thank everyone who has ever fulfilled the most important aspect of motherhood: mothering. I would like to thank the mothers who loved their children enough to go through with their pregnancy, and who cared for them enough to put them up for adoption, or who cared for them enough to struggle through sacrifice and keep them.  I would like to thank the mothers--especially mine--who sacrificed years caring for and loving their children.  I would like to thank the godmothers, friends, and sisters who loved with a mother's charitable Love.  Most of all, I would like to thank the Sisters and nuns who devote their entire lives to mothering poor lost sinners in this valley of tears. Here's to you all, you who understand most what the word "mother" means.  May Mary--the perfect mother in both senses--forever guide and pray for you, and may God bless you on this special day!

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