Wednesday, December 23, 2009
The Art of Motherhood
In certain occupations, such as baking, medicine, and architecture, perfection is of utmost importance. Motherhood is not one of them.
One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn, as a born perfectionist, is that, like cooking and painting, motherhood is an art, with more room for creativity and imagination than we usually take; it can be stymied by trying too hard to adhere to a certain worldly model – that “perfect mother” that many of us have built up in our brains, composed of pieces of motherly characters from books, movies, and real life.
I don’t think I contradict myself to say we should strive to be like Mary. I think she would not have tried to do things perfectly by our modern standard. Everything we know about her motherhood came about the “wrong way” for her time. She conceived a baby out of wedlock, gave birth in a stable, lived as a poor wife of a simple carpenter, lost her son in the temple, and had to watch her son die a cruel death.
When we view motherhood as a gift, we don’t have to pay God back by being perfect mothers. He knows we can’t, and He doesn’t expect it of us. All He asks is we give them Love. Treasuring a child means putting him or her as our first priority and doing our best for them, given whatever circumstances we are in.
A good friend recently reminded me that to think we could do things perfectly on our own is a sin of pride. Let us offer up our weaknesses then, to God, and ask Him for the grace we need to help bring these young ones up to glorify Him.
Luke 1: 46-55 (NAB)
And Mary said: 16 "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."
Painting: “The Madonna of Humility” by Robert Campin, Netherlandish, circa 1450-70