As I shared recently, my publisher, Ave Maria Press, has decided to create new editions of my first two books. The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul are now available in new, updated editions. Every month, we’ll take time here to look more deeply into a chapter from each of the books and provide additional thoughts and resources.
Chapter 2: Somebody’s Mom: A Mother’s Relationship with Her Children
To be honest, I have procrastinated on writing this particular reflection. This week, when I contemplated the reasons for my hesitation, it didn’t take too much introspection to recognize that I didn’t want to take on this topic because my current relationship with my own mother is so fraught with challenges and drama. Writing on motherhood is enjoyable when all is going well. But let’s be honest: often, mothering is made up of hard stuff, smelly stuff, and seemingly impossible stuff. Just ask Mary!
When I wrote The Handbook for Catholic Moms, my own children were living in our home, and life felt complex but under control. Both boys were becoming increasingly independent. This allowed me time to begin to focus on how my life would evolve in that new phase of my life with them. In the chapter “Somebody’s Mom,” I shared some of the roles that I play in my boys’ lives: their prayer warrior, their bad guy, and their builder. Back then, I saw as my primary duties to them the need to lift them up in faith, to keep them from falling into harm, and to help them accomplish their dreams while becoming the men God called them to be.
It’s interesting to me that now, even as they are young men with their own independent lives, my greatest desire as their mom is still to fulfill those same priorities. Daily, my boys remain in my prayers. I try my best to help them navigate the complicated waters of life’s ethics and morals. I strive to help them excel at their chosen vocations, supporting them but also nudging them as my own mother has always done with me.
I learned how to parent not from reading books, but from my mother and my grandmothers. Even now, as a woman who is old enough to be a grandmother (but isn’t yet!), I still look to Mom as my role model. But that relationship has been complicated in recent years by Mom’s health challenges, which have left her battling Parkinson’s disease and mental health struggles. The last year has been a series of trials for her that has tested all of us in ways I couldn’t have imagined. She is still my mother, but now — increasingly — Mom is childlike and needy. So now, for Mom, I am a prayer warrior too. She and Daddy top my list most days. Yet all the while, even in the midst of facing her own demons, I know Mom still prays for me every day.
Motherhood is filled with the greatest of graces and the most harrowing of hurts. All these years after writing “The Handbook,” I feel humbled to my knees by the gift of this vocation and my endless desire to get it right. When I wrote “Somebody’s Mom,” my desire was not to offer a perfect blueprint for how to be the perfect Catholic mom. If you have that information, please send it my way. Rather, my goal in this chapter, as in the rest of the book, was to reflect upon how our relationship with our children can be a major part of nurturing our relationships, both inside and outside our families. For me, it’s easy now to see the relationships I have with my sons and to recognize that in so many ways, they now pray for, correct, and build me.
Eric and Adam have, as much as my parents and my husband, made me the woman I am today. We are all very much a work in progress. But I’m content in the knowledge that being “Somebody’s Mom” has most definitely nurtured my heart.
I am more faithful and closer to God because my sons taught me to trust God’s unconditional love and His unfailing providence.
I am kinder, more patient, and more loving because my boys taught me that we can correct and refine one another with mercy and gentleness.
I am a dreamer who sees the vast potential of God’s call because Eric and Adam have taught me that there is no limit to the ways God wants to use us to share His love with others.
I can see now that all the while, as I’ve been playing these various roles in my sons’ lives, I was preparing myself for this time in my relationship with Mom. I’ll probably spend the rest of my life working on living Chapter 2. But it will have been a life well spent.
Listen to the audio of my discussion of this topic with Anna Mitchell on the Son Rise Morning Show:
A tool for you:
Danielle Bean, our CatholicMom.com Brand Manager, recently released her beautiful new book Giving Thanks and Letting Go: Reflections on the Gift of Motherhood in partnership with Ave Maria Press. This latest addition to our CatholicMom.com book imprint is a true gift and belongs on every mom’s bookshelf.
A thought to ponder:
How is being “somebody’s mom” a way of nurturing your heart? How do the various roles that you play in the lives of your children help you live lovingly in other relationships?
Copyright 2020 Lisa M. Hendey
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