The Mom With The Sweaty Lip

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"The mom with the sweaty lip" by Sheri Wohlfert (CatholicMom.com)

Flickr (2011), all rights reserved.

As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you. Isaiah 66:13

As I was driving in the car the other day I was pondering the current state of my motherhood and the song “Dear Younger Me” came on the radio and I was immediately a puddle of tears. My baby girl turned 21 recently and it made me realize my babies are all grown up now. I blubbered a bit when I got home and looked at their baby pictures, but they weren’t tears of sadness or grief … they were tears of joy, relief, and thankfulness. Joy that we have three adult children we are very proud of and that we really enjoy. Relief that we survived driver’s training, orthodontics, awkward middle-school stuff and discovering the path God picked for each of them. And thankfulness for all the graces, gray hair, lessons in patience and proud mamma moments along the way.

I took all that to Mass with me and watched a sight I’ve seen many, many times unfold before my eyes. Mass had just begun when I spotted her … you’ve all seen her … that mom with the little one who at moments has the strength of Hercules. You know the mom I’m talking about: the one who walks in with a load of kids and stuff and looks exhausted before we even stand for the opening hymn. My heart is always touched by the moms who desperately want to look put together but all too often they rush out of their house wearing the only outfit that will fit over their beautiful body that is still shaped a little differently after bringing forth another miracle.

I look across the aisle and see the mom who tried to do her hair in the 2.5 minutes she had to get herself ready after wrangling up all her little lovelies only to have it all messed up, pulled down and chewed on by the soggy-fisted wee one in her arms. I notice the mom who had an extra 30 seconds and decided to accessorize, only to have her beautiful necklace become a chew toy. I see the mom who is wearing her favorite color in the hopes of brightening up her tired complexion, only to have it  decorated with stripes of spit-up down the front and back. I see the moms who are trying everything they know, from pacifiers to board books to Cheerios and Goldfish to keep their little one quiet in church but they end up frazzled, stared at and sporting the telltale sweaty lip before Mass is even half over.

As I thought back to my “young me” I decided she had some things to say. After nearly a quarter century of being a mom, here’s what I’d like the mom with the sweaty lip to know.

You are beautiful, and the fact that you got out of sweats or yoga pants and made it to Mass with your family makes Jesus smile; don’t worry about the cranky person two pews back who doesn’t know that. I want you to know that growing babies leaves evidence; on your hips, belly and thighs and it’s BEAUTIFUL! You are beautiful because you are a walking sacrifice … every day. Women often give up flat bellies, tight buns and perky anything so another human can enter the world and then feel bad because they don’t look like they did when they were 16. Each roll and lump and wiggle tells the story of your YES to life. Just so you know, there are no body size specifications for entering heaven.

I wish the younger me would have known that babies are loud; they smell bad and they are messy … usually in public! They are also cute, funny, amazing and holy in the eyes of the Father who perfectly created them and gave them specifically to you! Our world is pretty crazy and bringing our wee ones to church is the greatest security measure we can offer their souls. They belong there and you belong there! We need you there, and the Father needs you there. You may walk out the door and not be able to recall a word the priest said, but the graces will be granted because you were there with your babies, trying to worship and praise God with your church family. That’s what we’re called to do and he certainly doesn’t expect us or the infant and toddler we’re toting along to be perfect but present.

I see you, tired and frazzled and wondering if it was all worth it, and the older me says, “YES IT IS! Please don’t stop  coming to church!” I see you sweat, I see the spit-up, I see your patience sometimes fade, but more than all that I see your faithfulness, your hopefulness, and your absolutely stunning beauty. I remember it and I needed you to know some days I’d like it all back. I’d like you to know that it won’t last forever. I’ve never seen a 12 year old ask for Goldfish, a sippy cup or a storybook during the homily.

Someday you will return to outfits that match and accessories and hairdos that are stylish and lovely, but for now, just revel in the fact that you are doing the greatest job on earth … being a faithful mom who’s trying to help her kids get to heaven. So wipe the sweat from your lip, buy a comfortable outfit and sit by people like me who will reach out to take your baby or make faces at your toddler to try and entertain them while you take a breath.

"The mom with the sweaty lip" by Sheri Wohlfert (CatholicMom.com)

Flickr (2009), all rights reserved.

A Seed To Plant: If you aren’t a mom, share this post with someone who is and most of all, be the one who makes that young mom with the sweaty lip feel supported, loved, welcomed! Next time you see that mom in church, instead of scowling or judging, say a little prayer for her and ask the Peace of Christ to come over her and the little one she’s desperately trying to keep from distracting you.

Blessings on your day!


Copyright 2017 Sheri Wohlfert

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About Author

Sheri is a Catholic wife, mom, speaker and teacher. She uses her great sense of humor and her deep faith to help others discover the joy of being a child of God. Her roots are in Kansas but her home is in Michigan. The mission of her ministry is to encourage others to take a good look at the simple ways we can all find God doing joyful, blessed, amazing things smack dab in the middle of the laundry, ball games, farm chores and the hundred other things we manage to cram into a day. Sheri also writes at JoyfulWords.org.

15 Comments

  1. I love this. I’m a musician at Mass, so I’m not in the pews where I can lend a helping hand or give an encouraging smile — usually by the time the last chord of the final song sounds, that mom with little ones is long gone. But I have been that mom, and the people who took a moment to encourage ME when my little one was making me question my decision to bring a baby to Mass left a lasting impression. I’m so grateful to them (I run into some of them now, and they tell me how they remember me bringing that baby into church … he’s 15 now!)

  2. Wow! Its amazing to see how much this relate to me (even the sweaty lip symptom). I am the mom that stopped going to church because of the mean looks that I would get as my children cried during the homily. Reading this brings tears to my eyes (no joke!), because I truly miss going to mass.

    • Hello Maggi! I’m glad it touched your heart and I hope you and your little ones come back “home” to Mass. That’s my prayer…and I’ll also say some for the people who will be in the pews around you. Ultimately…this is a YOU and HIM thing…not a YOU and the cranky folks in the pew thing. We can’t be good at something unless we know the expectations and we practice…little people become great saints because they’ve practiced along the way so I’ll pray you take them back to mass to practice and you find grace and kindness when you do! Blessings on your day Maggi!

    • Dear Marie, thank you for inquiring about reprinting this encouraging article. The final decision on that rests with the author; I’ll follow up with her today. Please do note that if you do obtain permission to reprint and share it, we request that you include both the author’s copyright information and a note that it was originally posted at CatholicMom.com.
      Thank you for reading! I think your idea of sharing this at baptism classes is a wonderful one.

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