All of the members of the Caritas Community wish to extend a Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, including those women who have been blessed with religious vocations who are spending their lives mothering the world. It is a joyous day and one in which we celebrate in the community in honoring first our Heavenly Mother, and then all the mothers of the community. But as the following letter, that was sent to us recently, shows, the reverence for not only Mother’s Day, but for motherhood itself is slowly diminishing in our culture today.
May 6, 2008
Dear Caritas Community,
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers!
In this “pro-choice” world, Mother’s Day has lost its joy, its veneration of mothers. It is a ‘ho-hum’ holiday. Growing up as a little girl in Peru, I remember that Mother’s Day was a big deal! Carnations were given out at school and church in remembrance of mothers both dead (white carnations) and alive (red). School children made crafts for their mothers. I vaguely remember standing in line at the bus stop and a stranger made a comment to my mom, “Ah, but you are a mother.” It was palpable! Motherhood was a big deal!
Fastforward to the 21st century, more than 30 years after Roe vs Wade and oral contraceptives: I am sitting in the Pediatric Cath Lab and people are conversing about a new Charleston restaurant. They turn to me and ask “Have you tried it?” I answer: “No…we don’t go out to restaurants anymore…I have a baby and by the time you add babysitting costs to the meal it is just not worth it.” One of the married nurses who “chose” not to have children quickly retorted: “Well, you chose that…you didn’t have to have a baby you know.”
I hadn’t been particularly sad when I made my comment nor had I asked for free babysitting services. What a change in attitude towards children! Even amongst pediatric nurses! Would I trade my son in for a meal at a trendy restaurant?
Nowadays, when people announce they are pregnant instead of “congratulations!” people ask whether it was “planned.” Even amongst married people a pregnancy isn’t always a reason to celebrate. In the 1980’s, a married fellow nurse was upset to be pregnant. “I don’t know how it happened.” She hadn’t planned on having any kids. I told her, “You are married, Anne, what do you expect?” She went on to deliver a healthy baby boy. I hope he never knows how disappointed she’d been at the beginning.
One of my cousins got pregnant less than a year after giving birth to twins. Her announcement was greeted with comments on their lack of responsibility (they are in a two-bedroom apartment), “Why didn’t she get her tubes tied,” etc. These comments were made by her own parents! She delivered a baby boy a few months ago and despite being an “all natural family planning, organic type” got a postpartum tubal ligation.
Nowadays, many grandparents don’t react with joy. I believe thoughts of “Don’t expect me to babysit or help you financially” are more likely. People react with anger and guilt. They don’t want to be inconvenienced by the plight of a financially insecure mother.
When people say “It takes a village to raise a child” they mean we need to call the Department of Social Services if mom spanks her kid in public. It is a rare “villager” that will tell the unruly child to mind his mother. It is even rarer to find a neighbor that will offer to watch the child so that stressed parents can have an evening to themselves.
We are the body of Christ! When one member is hurting, we all hurt! We are supposed to help each other! Sadly not even the religious believe this.
In Columbia, South Carolina, an Episcopalian minister berated his adopted daughter for having a third child. She loved children and like many children of one child families she wanted a large family. Unfortunately, she carried a rare genetic disorder and had passed it on to one of her children already. She was deemed irresponsible for potentially passing it on to a third child. What a lack of faith!
A married co-worker in the same town was telling me about her son. She hadn’t wanted children but found herself pregnant with this son. She believed abortion was the wrong choice for married people. But, she promptly had a tubal after he was born. Now the child was asking for a little brother or sister. Every time the subject comes up, she tells her child that if he had a sibling he’d have to share his toys and his room. “You don’t really want that do you?” We are selfish so we teach our children to be selfish too.
In 2003, I took care of a white six month old that was having ear tubes placed. I chatted with the foster mom who was taking care of his healthy twin brother. She said that the 24 year old mother was married but was giving them up for adoption. Some of the older nurses were aghast since they had raised several children at that age. It is true that young adults aren’t as mature as they were 30 years ago.
Is it any wonder that Mother’s Day is no longer a real holiday? The only time I felt recognized and special as a mother was at Caritas in May 2004. I was standing in line to visit the Bedroom. It was hot, I was carrying my son in my arms. One of the other visitors told me “the Community said that mothers with young children are supposed to go to the front of the line.” I felt like royalty! It was special to be a mother! That is living Our Lady’s messages! PLEASE don’t forget to tell everyone that in July!
In Pompano Beach, Florida, there is a blind set of 65 year old twins that sit behind us at Mass. Despite their disabilities and unlike many older people in South Florida, they are clean, immaculately dressed and very devout. They are also very popular so I haven’t gotten a chance to converse with them. I want to know about their mother. What was she like to have raised these exemplary men? Did she despair when she was told her sons were blind? Undaunted, did she raise them the way she would have raised any other child? Did she have any idea what a powerful witness that is to a 21st century mom? If I had a chance to talk to her, what would she say? Would she praise all the family members, neighbors and kind teachers that helped? Would she be appalled at the lack of support for moms of normal children? I hope she is in heaven interceding for the moms of disabled children.
I want to thank you for your witness. You don’t know that “little” kindnesses make such a big difference to the rest of us. PLEASE lets show that to all the mothers in July.
A Friend of the Community
One of the primary reasons Our Lady has been coming to the earth in Her apparitions in Medjugorje these past 28 years is to raise up motherhood again. As the country of Japan is learning, and many other countries are following the same path, nations disappear without motherhood. If motherhood dies, who else is there to save the world? Motherhood has always been the last stand for all societies. When motherhood is cast aside, derided as “bondage” for women, looked down upon as a waste of life, then it is only common sense that we must realize that those nations who profess such beliefs in their culture are headed towards extinction. That is why God the Father has been sending “The Mother” to us, to nurse back to health a fallen and sinful world, starting with motherhood. It has to start with mothers because they are the bearers of life in the world. We can lament that mother’s do not receive the respect that they once did in decades past, but as the letter above so eloquently expresses, where is the self-sacrificing attributes in motherhood today that brought about the praise of motherhood in the past? We are living in a “me-first” world, but as anyone who has children in their lives at all know, the needs of children have to come first. And so for many, the choice is made to eliminate children from their lives so to have a world that revolves only around themselves, their own desires, their own wants, and their own needs. Contrast the above letter with an article written by a mother of 12 children, and ask yourself, what world would you rather live in?
"I celebrated life on a hot weekend in July in St. Louis at my son’s wedding. Beautiful St. Vincent’s Catholic Church was the setting. This occasion held all the reasons for thanking God daily for this precious gift. Surrounded by loved ones—children, grandchildren, family and friends—we gathered to witness the union not only of my son and his lovely bride, but of our two families. No small wedding was this, with the bride’s eight and John’s 11 brothers and sisters, plus their brothers-and sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews. Those family members not in the wedding procession took their places as ushers, readers, choir members, servers, Eucharistic ministers, picture takers and program givers. It was so wonderful! Father Ed, at the beginning of his homily said that he was glad the parents of this couple decided to stop having children when they did or else the wedding procession would have been a lot longer.
Recently, an acquaintance couldn’t understand why anyone would want to have so many children. Well, I could not imagine life without them. I cherish the precious infant and childhood years, seeing each one develop into his own individual person, the many talents and chosen vocations, the good times and the not-so-good times, being together even when far apart, loving one another always despite difference. And I keep always in my heart the knowledge that my husband, their father, is ever watching over all of us from his place in heaven. These 12 so-special lives that God gave to my husband and me have multiplied over and over into a myriad of blessings. I am rich indeed!”
What hope, what life, what joys and blessings this woman expresses of what motherhood has been for her—a family tree that keeps leafing out and producing fruit that spreads out into the good of society through all the gifts and talents that are brought forth from these individuals birthed from this family. You can be sure that this “mother” is a queen in her home, her loving subjects not only her original 12 children, but also the husbands and wives who have married into her family and her 16 grandchildren (and counting) who love to go to “grandma’s house” to visit. She is a woman who spent her life in service to her family, church and community, who rarely put herself first. She sacrificed her own material comforts to have such a large family, and yet, what richness, contentment, happiness, peace and fulfillment fill her life.
Mirjana once said that Our Lady never put Herself first at any time in Her life. Our Lady has come to teach women this truth again, a truth that must be learned if we are to have a future of hope for our families and our world. There is a profoundness in what Our Lady is doing and for those who have a heart not only to listen, but to embrace the words and example of Our Lady, you will discover in your life the truth of the expression, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”
In the Love of The Mother for All Mothers,
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