Fine Lines of Motherhood by Cheryl Dickow

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Most things in life are about the fine lines.

There is a fine line between vanity and caring for your body as a temple to the Holy Spirit.

There is a fine line between a treat and over-indulgence (I’m thinking of a piece of chocolate cake versus the whole cake).

There is certainly a fine line between judging others and setting someone straight.

Motherhood is really all about fine lines, as well.

For instance, there is a fine line between admiring another woman in her role as mother and not holding her in such high esteem as to denigrate, depress or frustrate yourself in your own role as mother.

Being a mother is a unique, God-given call upon a woman’s life. The Catholic Church teaches that when called to the vocation of marriage we are also asked to be open to life. In so many ways, that openness is a way in which we collaborate with God and bring to fruition a life to which a purpose and a soul belong.

But when we each respond to this gift of collaboration with God, we really need to remember that He knows our strengths and our weaknesses and will respond accordingly. Thus, some couples may be called to parent eight or ten children while others may be called to parent one or two or three. The point is that each call is distinctive based upon so many different things. And what is right for one isn’t necessarily right for another.

Here is where judging is best left to God. He knows what suits each of us and when we compare ourselves with other mothers, we are bound to be on the losing end of the comparison—unless we stay this side of the fine line where we are able to be inspired by that person and not be disheartened. This is particularly true in this day and age where we are always putting our best faces forward in blogs and in the ever expanding world offered to us via the Internet.

The best thing we can do for ourselves as mothers is to look inward to determine our strengths and weaknesses and then turn to God for guidance and look for the ways in which He provides earthly avenues of love and support.

Be who God called YOU to be as a wife and mother.

We may admire someone who we are following online or even a saint like Gianna Beretta Molla but we are not all called to be anyone other than ourselves. We may look to other women as role models of holiness but when we cross that fine line and begin to berate ourselves because we are different than what we perceive in another, we really lose out on however God has uniquely called each of us.

And He has called each of us in a unique and beautiful way.

I was never a mother who was able to sit back and let things roll off her back. Sure, I played a few games of “HORSE” basketball and had lots of fun with board games like Sequence; but I was also always a worrier about things. When we hiked up a mountain I was the one making sure the boys were hugging the side—being “safe.” When we threw rocks in the stream I was always making sure the boys were two steps off the edge—although one summer afternoon my oldest did end up in the water and a fully dressed businessman jumped in to get him because my hands were otherwise occupied with my toddler and baby…God bless that stranger, although my friend was close at hand and was going right in as well.

They call people like me “Type A” personalities. Yes, I am the oldest of my own siblings. Yes, I was always in charge when my sisters and I played games. Yes, I am a strong personality. Yes, I had “plans” for how life would be.

When three little boys were thrown in the mix, I had a lot of learning and growing to do. Add to that the diagnosis of a chronic disease and it wasn’t always all fun and games.

So, three boys were what we were blessed with and that became the Dickow household.

Looking back, I probably more clearly remember my failures than my successes but I am fortunate in the way God reveals some of the successes to me now, with each passing day. This year my boys are 22, 20, and 18 and we have so much fun together. I thoroughly enjoy talking with them about their day, life, college, careers and all the stuff in between. I like who they’ve become and love that God has allowed me to take this journey with each of them.

With God’s grace, I apparently didn’t alienate them with my nagging, my preoccupation with order and my concerns about their character. They were clearly more able to let things roll off their backs than was I, and for that I am forever grateful.

I had lots of wisdom shared with me along the way and am not sure what stuck and what didn’t; however, I would say this to all mothers: wherever you are at in your mothering years, it is always important to stay this side of the fine line. Don’t compare yourself to other mothers whose personalities (and whose children’s personalities) are very different than your own. Know that you have given life and are forever connected to that life in a way that is intimately yours.  Keep God as your constant companion and enjoy as each day will be a treasure that builds until your children go out into the world having your “stamp” upon them. And trust that with God’s help that “stamp” is as unique as you are—it is the stamp that God was counting on because it came from you!

Copyright 2010 Cheryl Dickow

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