Show of hands: who here has been told to sleep when the baby sleeps? How about to enjoy it while it lasts? Oh, everyone? Yeah that is what I thought.
Something about being a young mom seems to attract a non-stop train of “helpful hints” from our more seasoned compatriots. I have been blessed to be surrounded by many wise women who have given me guidance with my young family, but there comes a time when I just want to be left alone to figure it out on my own. However, there are three pieces of advice from the three most influential mothers in my life that I would like to take my turn at passing along.
The first is from my mother-in-law. We were driving in the car, and I was telling her about all the next big concerts, weddings, holidays, or trips I was excited for. Instead of saying how fun that sounded, she began to tell me that while special occasions are nice, if they are what I live for, I am going to be constantly focused on something other than “today.” Live for the moment, perhaps, is what she was saying. That sounded silly to me; how could I live for a day that was just diapers and kids’ shows on Netflix? I had been stuck in a funk for weeks, and the next big thing was all that was keeping me from insanity, or so I thought.
My mother-in-law is an extremely intelligent woman, so I figured it was worth a try, at least. So for the last year, I have attempted to make home and my day to day the things I really live for. After all, I’ve been dreaming of being a wife and mother for as long as I can remember. The vocation of motherhood is to raise our sons and daughters to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Big events offer an opportunity for that in their own way, but the most important raising is in that every day routine of keeping them healthy, teaching them, and modeling God’s constant Love to them. And the bonus in living for the everyday: I usually find something significant to celebrate in each one.
The second most valuable piece of advice I have gotten is my own mother telling and showing me that I will never run out of love. I know to anyone with more than one child, that sounds like an obvious statement, but I was seriously worried. As I was expecting my second son, I told her that while I knew it was silly, I felt like I was going to love one more than the other. Now my mom had ten children, so if I could take anyone’s word on this subject as an authority, it was hers. She assured me that there was no way having another child meant that I would love them less.
I think I was worried that it was like when you fall in love for the first time. You want a complete monopoly on your love’s time, and you have no interest in anyone or anything else. That had been the most intense feeling of love I had experienced yet, so I thought that was it. But a parent’s love is so much different and so much deeper than the honeymoon phase of a romantic relationship.
My mother was so right. While some commodities, such as time, patience, and the last cookie, are finite, love is not. Love might be the only way that we can experience infinity here on earth. I thought I could never love anything as much as my husband, and then my first son, but I find myself loving all of my boys more and more as each day passes. How wonderful it is to know that with each child I have, I will have that much more love to give them!
Finally, the best advice I have gotten to date and am ever likely to get is from Our Blessed Mother telling me that God is in control, so I don’t have to be. We all know Luke 1:38. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to Your word.” These are easily the hardest words of the Bible for me as a mother to accept. I am a certifiable control freak who does not sleep well with dishes in the sink, an unfinished liturgy plan, or toys on my living room floor. The carpet in my dining room (seriously, who does that?) gives me a mini heart attack every time we have red sauce. Even with my no less than six organizational apps, things slip, and I get stressed.
Mary is the perfect woman, and the perfect mother. While I am sure she got stressed too, whatever her response to stress was, by her nature, the perfect response to stress. I personally can think of few things more stress inducing than hearing that your whole life plan is now thrown out the window and you are going to be an unwed mother to the Son of God. My response to that would have been to grab the nearest paper bag and hyperventilate into it at that point. Not so with Our Lady. While we know she “kept all these things, pondering on them in her heart,” she graciously and humbly submitted to everything God sent her way. So while I may still cry over spilled milk on my carpet occasionally, I know I must endeavor to accept things in Mary’s spirit of humble obedience.
The advice will never stop. As my boys grow, I am sure I will hear how I need to feed them this, buy them that, discipline them like such, and on it will go. I hope to continue to sift through the mountains of guidance and continue to find more gems of wisdom from the mothers who went before me.
Copyright 2017 Hilary Thompson
About the author: Hilary Thompson is a young wife and mother of two boys living in southeast Michigan. She has been playing the organ for Mass since she was twelve years old, and works as a music minister on weekends. She enjoys chronicling her continuing adventures in parenting and liturgical music, sharing the ups and downs along the way.