“I can pay somebody to do your job” I was once told by a family member, reducing my vocation as mother to a low-wage job of combined babysitter and housekeeper. I was devastated by that comment, replying, “Sure, anyone can do laundry and cook. They can even watch my children and keep them fed, warm and safe. But no one can be their mother but me.” I believe in the value of my vocation to mother my four girls with all my heart, and have happily dedicated the past 20 years to it, yet I know all too well, that to hold such a belief is swimming against a strong current of popular opinion these days. Opinion which says that motherhood is overrated, antiquated, and even oppressive. There are countless movies and TV shows about overbearing mothers, but you rarely see a show about the pain caused by absent moms. About children who cry at naptime in daycare for mommy, learning to self-soothe at way too tender ages. I saw it for years as a home day care provider. Where was mom? Sometimes, she had no choice, but too often she was out ‘fulfilling herself’, contributing to the family income, not ‘wasting time’ at home. One mother of two preschoolers admitted she preferred a low paid position as a bank officer to staying home with her boys. She made no money beyond daycare expenses, and hardly saw her two delightfully boisterous boys awake. She had no idea what she was missing.
Dorothy Pilarski does. Her book, “Motherhood Matters” is a warm-hearted, encouraging conversation about this vital issue. Motherhood Matters” is a series of essays, quotes, prayers, and letters from a woman who has been on both sides of this issue. Dorothy Pilarski has a staggeringly successful career as a businesswoman, motivational speaker, ministry leader, saleswoman, and TV show host. She has also a devout Catholic mother to a son and a daughter, and she knows which is more important.
If you have had attacks on the value of being a stay-at-home mom, or feel guilty for only working part time so you can be home when your children walk in the door from school, this book will act like a tonic on your soul. It will reaffirm your decision to honor the vocation you took on when you gave life to your babies, and heal your heart from the barbs you receive from those who don’t value your vocation. If you are working full time and doing the bare minimum raising your children, as I did, teaching school for a year when my oldest was a toddler, this book will reawaken your inner yearning to be a full time mother, and help you find the courage to explain to your spouse why motherhood matters.
Pilarski offers advice on raising your children to be passionate Catholics. She offers practical, time-tested hints on how to get your children to attend daily Mass with you, think Catholicism is cool, or pray the rosary as a family. “Motherhood Matters” is precisely what the Catholic mother needs; a reminder of her irreplaceable role as first teacher of her small children, and role model of our powerful Catholic faith, challenging teenagers to see themselves as part of the Church.
Pilarski wasn’t always an advocate for devotion to motherhood; before she was married, she thought there was nothing better than jet setting all over the world on business. An encounter with a mom of many at the Honolulu Zoo opened her eyes, “Call it providence. Gwen helped me see how jet-setting from one city to another was robbing me of something very important. While standing in front of large audience required courage, it didn’t require as much courage as dedicating your life to marriage and children.”
Some women bristle at taking advice on mothering, but Pilarski’s disarming humility, her stories about her own faults and need for confession show that her intent is to mentor not to lecture. I particularly enjoyed the story of the lamp she bought on impulse, hiding the cost from her husband because she just had to have it. Eventually she had to agree with her family that it was ugly, consigning it to the basement, where it serves as a lesson that we don’t have to give in to every desire. Such a humble, loving and good-humored teacher as Dorothy Pilarski can mentor me any day!
“Motherhood Matters” reads like a bit like a blog, with somewhat of a disconnected flow between stories. This is why I found it helpful to read it a couple of entries at a time, as an evening meditation, to make the most of the spiritual richness and say the unique prayers specially written for mothers. Each reading becomes a mini-retreat, and I found myself wanting to write a prayer journal of the reflections it inspired.
Pilarski relates stories times she followed the promptings of the Holy Spirit to connect with people in her daily life, from neighbors watering their gardens while she is out walking, to well-dressed, lonely women wandering the mall, to a bishop from the Philippines who needed a church to say Holy Mass. She has deep commitment to evangelize, a zeal for souls, and a generous heart to love others as Christ. The mission of her women’s groups, her TV show on Canadian “Salt & Light” network, and her book is simple;
“We need a new generation of valiant, energetic, passionate women that will do whatever it takes to mother their own children—women who refuse to broker their children into the care of others, women who do not want to see their babies in their early years on a webcam. I am talking about women who will storm heaven and Earth to stay at home with their children.”
Give “Motherhood Matters” to your favorite mother this Christmas, but keep one for yourself. Keep in at your bedside for inspiration on those days when you feel like it’s not worth it to stay home, a paid babysitter would do just as well. Purchase the book at Dorothy’s blog.
Copyright 2011 Leticia Velasquez