"In this beautiful world
there is nothing more cherished,
no duty more honorable,
no responsibility more sacred,
no task more difficult,
than that of motherhood"
Icon of the young Theotokos (Mary) with her mother St. Anna
Motherhood is truly a blessed profession and something to be cherished. The wonder if motherhood is that it can change and shift based on the personality of the mother and the particular children she is mothering and the season of life we happen to be in. It adapts to every culture. It is a title which, once attained, can not be taken away.
In our home we have had many children. Attached to each one of our children has been a mother. Some of these mothers have been able to retain the title and profession through hard work and by humbly seeking help. Others have lost the right to participate in the action of mothering, but they will always be mothers. There will always be a place in their heart for their precious child. Even the ones who have willingly surrendered their children can never forget the little person who grew in their womb.
Mothers who have never known the wonder of carrying and bearing their own child, those who become mothers through adoption have an equal share in the heart change that takes place when one becomes a mother. Even though you know you share the title with another, and there is understanding that this child did not come from your own flesh, no one can take away who you become once you let that child into your heart.
Women who have lost babies to miscarriage and never give birth or adopt...they tend to tuck the title of Mother a little deeper in their hearts. No one recognizes them on Mother's Day. It is likely only their closest friends know of their sorrow, but even the most loving friend forgets that motherhood was attained. These women are mothers no matter how quickly that baby flew to the arms of Jesus.
In some countries motherhood is openly honored. When I lived in Puerto Rico for a short time I experienced an appreciation for women I hadn't encountered before. You may laugh, but every woman was "desired" and appreciated (not always a good thing, but if you ever have a self esteem issue, go to a Hispanic country!). Mother's Day in Puerto Rico was a day when every mother was celebrated, not just by their own families, but by everyone! It was a beautiful thing.
What do mothers do? They cry, worry, get frustrated, sneak chocolate. They sit by the sick bed of their children without complaint. They let their little ones spit out gum or partially chewed food they suddenly found disgusting, into the palm of their hands! They change diapers, clean up vomit, get peed on. They train and plea and make mistakes. They encourage and cheer. They yell and laugh and share memories. They work hard hard hard!!! They kiss boo boos. They hold and rock and snuggle. They stay up late waiting for their newly licensed children to come home. They comfort when things don't work out well in relationships or with expectations. They hope. They pray. They make many many (MANY!) mistakes but they love no matter what.
Dear Mothers, embrace motherhood. Understand that it is worth doing. It is worth falling down and getting back up. May the Lord of hope have mercy on all us mothers!