I see you, dear mother of a slew of little ones. You’re pregnant, very pregnant, and your face reveals the strain. Your sunken eyes, are harrowed with fatigue . You feel alone, overwhelmed, and stretched beyond the tight, striped skin that protrudes out in front of you. You feel as though you have nothing more to give and yet so much is asked of you. You’re trying to keep on top of the cleaning, the cooking, the laundry, and preventing your sweet babies from tearing the house (and each other) apart. You’re attempting to make preparations for the arrival of your newest addition, but trying not to think about it too much, because you’re already clawing your way through a trench of demands. You’re wondering: God, why did you send me another, when I feel like I’m failing the ones I already have… when I’m failing at everything?
I see you, and admittedly, in the past, I have been you.
When someone would offer me a "This too shall pass", I would wince a little and think, yes, but how quickly? Now, with eleven in tow (and the twelfth on the way) I can assure you it does pass. The imprint of warm, charming moments remain and the recordings of their tiny voices and pictures of plump faces with deliciously chubby cheeks find me musing aloud that, somehow, it had all passed too quickly.
But this post is not for you, sweet mother, it is for the others.
It’s for those who also see you. It’s for those who, at this stage in their lives, have been given the gifts you don’t possess: freedom, spare time, a desire to give more, or even simply a free hand.
Would you be offended, if I asked you, those who see the struggling mothers, to reach out to them during this all-consuming phase in their lives? I know many of you already do, and understand what an immense service it is to those who are just barely surfacing.
Perhaps you’re struggling yourself: dealing with the pain of an empty nest; discouraged at not finding the right fit in service to the church community; desiring marriage, but left frustrated in the pursuit; or perhaps carrying the painful cross of infertility.
Your cross, whether it be the weight of feeling lonely, unneeded, abandoned or laced with any number of sentiments, can be transformed into a most-appreciated gift of self. This heartfelt act of service would become a mutual gift: relief for the mothers and an opportunity to unite your heart to our Blessed Mother’s in a special way - to journey with Mary to Elizabeth’s home as she offered her cousin her loving care and service, and bringing Christ (stirring within her womb) into her cousin’s midst.
I pray you will connect with one of these mothers. Perhaps, offer to prepare a few meals for her family, or even to spend some time with her littles so she can catch her breath. You will leave her heart brimming with gratitude.
I know, because I was filled with profound appreciation when various “imitators of Mary’s way” came to me earlier in my life, when my children were all still quite young. She surprised me with groceries or meals; she offered to sit with my little ones, so I could run errands or organize their rooms; she washed my dishes when I was hit with a bout of fatigue. She was there.
And I pray, if you feel Christ stirring within, that you will bring Him to the struggling mothers: that you will be there, where the need is so profound.