The vocation of motherhood is a beautiful one. In Mulieris Dignitatem, St. John Paul II writes, “Each and every time that motherhood is repeated in human history, it is always related to the Covenant which God established with the human race through the motherhood of the Mother of God.” Wow! To think that every pregnancy points to the Incarnation is nothing less than amazing!
As beautiful as motherhood is, it also can be difficult and even painful.
[Motherhood] is constituted more of hard work, self-sacrifice, and patience, and less of basking in the love of grateful, well-formed, adoring, perfectly healthy and accomplished children who make perfect decisions that are deeply pleasing to a mother’s heart and exactly what she hoped for them. (Jesus Approaches by Elizabeth Kelly, p. 37)
Because of this, Mother’s Day seems to be one of those romanticized holidays that can be insensitive to the realities of motherhood. It paints a picture of the ideal, the perfect, the unrealistic, and if our circumstances don’t match the Hallmark commercial, we can feel disappointed and discouraged.
And yet, the high esteem which God places on all women and their natural and spiritual gift of motherhood is worthy of pause this Mother’s Day. So, no matter what we are facing — whether life is smooth or whether it has hit some bumps in the road — it is important for women to nurture their motherhood and give themselves some gifts that will keep on giving long past Mother’s Day.
Five gifts women can give themselves this Mother’s Day:
- Compassion. For whatever reason, women tend to be fairly critical of themselves. We have high expectations, and we focus more on our shortcomings than on our accomplishments. We easily beat ourselves up for things such as purchasing store-bought brownies instead of baking them from scratch. Self-criticism needs to stop! It is important for us to treat ourselves with greater kindness and compassion. We need to start seeing ourselves as God sees us: as His beloved daughters.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
- Patience. If we don’t practice self-compassion, we begin to compare ourselves to other women and believe that we don’t measure up. Therefore, it is important to be patient with ourselves. We are only human, after all! God is not asking us to be “Super Woman,” so why measure our worth with the yardstick of comparison? Rather, be open to letting God love us exactly as we are. Through His love, we will become more of who we are in Him.
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
- Time with God. As women, we heroically give of our time. Whether we are tending to small children at home or a classroom of high school freshman, whether we are washing our third load of laundry or preparing an important presentation to the board of directors, our focus is on the needs of others. But even Jesus took time away from His work to be with God (Luke 5:16). Even He needed to regroup, renew, and find refreshment in the wellspring of God’s love, grace, and strength. Therefore, let us take time this Mother’s Day to retreat with God. Spend an hour in the Adoration chapel or go for a Rosary walk. Converse with God about your work, about your time, about that self-critical voice, or whatever else is on your mind. Trust that His presence will be a source of renewed peace and strength for you.
Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his presence continually. (1 Chronicles 16:11)
- Gratitude. Perhaps we are experiencing the deep loss of a parent or child. Perhaps we are enduring a chronic illness or financial hardship. Maybe our child is making decisions of which we don’t approve. A lot can happen in life that is out of our control. We can become weary. Our vision can become clouded, and we can lose sight of our blessings. In the presence of God — with His help and loving guidance — make a list of your blessings. They can feel small next to your wounds; that’s OK. Writing them on paper, offering them to God, He will certainly use them for good … Good in your own life as well as in the lives of others.
Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)
- Self-care. So often women are hesitant about the idea of self-care. We are giving in nature, so to turn our attention on ourselves seems selfish. However, authentic self-care is important, because like prayer, it renews our spirit and refreshes our bodies. And then we are able to be better wives, moms, daughters, sisters, and friends. According to author L.R. Knost, “Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first, it means me too.” Therefore, take time this Mother’s Day to discover what truly restores you. Perhaps it is going for a walk, reading a new book, knitting a few rows, sipping iced coffee, or planting flowers. It doesn’t have to be much; just carve out some time for self-care on a regular basis, and you will be surprised by how much better you feel about yourself, your work, and your circumstances.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
Is there anything you would add to this list? Please share in the comments below. And as we approach Mother’s Day, may we recognize ourselves as beloved daughters of God, may we stay close to the Lord in all circumstances, and may we cultivate the unique feminine gifts He has given to us … and to the world. Mary, Queen of all Mothers, pray for us!
This post was originally featured on CatholicMom.com.