by Emily Molitor
What does it mean to rejoice in our children? How do we rejoice, revel in, the vocation of motherhood?
Welcoming my second daughter into the world has reawakened in my heart the desire to live the pure joy of a newborn, and has caused me to stop and reflect on how I am called to rest in the moment with my child. To look down at her sweet, alert eyes, I can see that she lives totally in the present, and her needs remind me of my own need to live there in the present with her.
How to be in the Present Moment?
We hear much about the term “being present” to our children. It sounds so good, yet I often don’t grasp the specific means or method of living it out.
Does “living” in the present mean to “rejoice” in the present? Perhaps I am living fully when I am praising God for the gift of life he has shared with me.
Or I am living fully when I offer thanksgiving for the gifts entrusted to me. Maybe I am living fully when my joy spills over into the hearts of my family. In moments of trial where I am tired and frustrated, I may not remember how to live joyfully.
I often will fall into the trap of complaining about how overwhelmed I am. Yet living in close proximity to a newborn reminds me again of the wonder of life; the wonder of a new soul present in the world, and my true “need” to live gratefully and joyfully. It is only when I am living each day with a heart of gratitude and wonder that I can know I am living that moment to the full.
Mothering the Beatitudes on our Children
Every mother looks upon her children with a deep pride and an inexpressible joy. This is God’s gift to us, our utter devotion to our children, and an unconditional desire to love them and will the good for them. Surely we will carry their faces imprinted on our hearts forever. Nothing can rob us of the gift of motherhood, nothing can change this fact, neither life nor death.
If we really believe this truth, then only joy can be found in such knowledge, and what an amazing, wonderful life it is.
Yet each moment of the day we may not, and usually do not, experience feelings of joy. We meet grumpy, tired faces, and we react in similar manner. Indeed, St. Francis de Sales tells us that sometimes we must “suffer much from our children”. How humbled we are by the many ways which our children’s passions reflect or ignite our own.
A wise friend once shared with me the idea that here in such moments we should recall the beatitudes and how we can apply them to mothering our children. Feeding the hungry means preparing (and cleaning up) three meals each day, or sometimes more! Clothing the naked means changing diapers and soiled clothing over and again. Consoling the sorrowful means wiping the tears from the eyes of an emotional toddler, who is sorely in need of special mommy time.
In these moments I am called to surrender my ideas of plans and accomplishments to a greater good of being with my child, and I then live the beatitudes in the unique manner to which God has called me.
Strive to Love
Happiness and joy are all around me when I open my eyes to them. When I say that I am happier in my role as a mother than I ever have been, upon what do I base this decision? Is it a feeling of happiness, or rather a deep-seated contentment with my life, and serenity in the vocation that I am living?
I hope that if I am truly happier here than anywhere else, that this joy is then evident in my interactions in my children, and that they learn what contentment looks like through witnessing my appreciation for and celebration of life. Do I take time to notice the blessings around me, both little and great? Do I vocally thank God for the gifts given to me, and invoke His aid in my times of need?
I yearn to share with my children the gift of joy and the art of contentment; it is here that we live the good life. Maybe I can smile more throughout the day, and laugh with my children to show them how much I enjoy their company. Maybe I can give more compliments to my family, and show gratitude on a daily basis. Maybe I can try harder to celebrate the daily events of life with joy.
St. Francis de Sales writes that we must continually strive to “love tenderly” the vocation to which God has called us. It is not a given, rather, we must work at it. Sometimes I am obliged to “do what this annoying office requires, but I must do it joyfully, and I must take delight in it and accept it. To do so it so follow St. Paul’s saying ‘in whatever state each was called, there let him remain with God.’
Do we remain with God throughout each day, and do we portray the truth to our children that life is not only worth living, but that it is worth celebrating? St. Francis de Sales