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It is easy to look at the feminist movement and find various ills that have actually resulted in the imprisonment and fostered a true sense of dependency in women by women. Perhaps this reality is overlooked and thus it is not explored adequately nor is it ever really known by some. The pain of this becomes quite apparent when we peer into the modern reality of motherhood and the wounds that linger there. There is this idea of being a mom as a burden one must be alleviated from opposed to a profound grace to be entered into, where we find the possibility to witness the hand of Our Lady guiding us and her mantle embracing us in love. There is incredible opportunity to know the profound sense of our potential as women in Christ.
As a young mom of two, I am baffled and disgusted by much of the mama culture out there. I see it damaging, and wounding to women, leading to isolation and a sense of victim-hood that hinders joy and a sense of thriving in these fragile and tremendously important years.
What has become more apparent to me is the often overpowering and critical view of our mother's generation , I say this wanting to bring light to something that must be discussed lest we lose a young generation of moms to suffering and self loathing, never learning the beauty of sacrifice and their own inconceivable power as strong independant women dependent on God.
Surely many people have grown to view domestic life and motherhood as a prison, and if this is Alcatraz I'm in , I wouldn't exchange these shackles for anything in in the world!
Take into account visiting a new mom, ,or even just hearing many new moms chat about their early experiences, it is often laden with "my mom said to do this ", "my mother-inlaw told me I should do that", or "my dog's aunt's grandmother's neighbour said I'm doing this wrong" . Please for the sake of everything good in the world and the sake of true womanhood - Back OFF.
Now perhaps that is seemingly bold. I'm also more inclined to dance to the beat of
my own GOD's drum, so I did not give heed to how to's, but took the time in silence and solitude with my children to discover my own mama voice, I think it is very important for everyone to do this.
Women need empowerment and encouragement to build a confident sense of motherhood rather than it being dictated to them, often in a means that is imposing. And although it may not appear as such ,I have seen it cause tremendous confusion in many new moms and serve to deprive them of truly enjoying the experience.
I am not dismissing the reality of postpartum depression, or declaring that it is not a significant suffering needing proper help and assistance, so please be sure to intercede appropriately if one you know may be in that state. For me it is important to bring forth the majority of cases I have seen where women can overwhelmingly worsen the emotional state of a new mom by claiming to know all the answers or be the answer themselves.
It is a grace to be able to thrive in motherhood, and so continual glory to God for it all, but I think He is too sadly forgotten in the journey. It is also vital to empower women by affirming their capabilities and letting them set out for themselves on the task of walking this path as individuals.
We have long pressed careers and importance of academia , we have been groomed to see that as worthy work, but motherhood by society is seen as a 12 month endeavor (if you're lucky to have that as a mat leave) and then BAM sent back to the "most important".
Most times, this is encouraged selfishly by the elder generation because they bask in the ability to child rear while their daughters return to work . I have seen alive a desire to be with ones child dismissed or not given proper attention, not because women don't yearn to be home from work, but because they don't know how, they don't know that it is worthy work , or that they are capable of it. More than this they have been so swamped by opinions and told a bunch of "how to's" that work is seen often as a means to "be oneself again" or to "come alive"
The notion that women can live this life giving vocation deadened inside is so wounding to me. It causes me great pain, and I'm sure Our Lady looks on and is there with her big maternal heart saying "Come to me, be with me, I am with you, I will guide you , just let ME mother you."
This awareness of damage done to new moms is continually affirmed as I often get calls from friends and such discussing difficulties and their experience of being torn. I am amazed at the light bulb moments that go off when I say "What works for you and your home?" "what do you feel is right?" "You are a good mother, you can do this, and find your own mama voice".
We empower women by stepping back enough to let grace step in and to let them become who God has meant them to be. We should not strive to have carbon copy mini me's of another time and place. I value tradition immensely , I think it is a healthy and necessary means of learning about the depth of our being, but in some cases, a lot of passed down theories about motherhood have stunted the growth, or rather hindered growth completely.
Imagine a child learning to ride a bike, the training wheels are put on, when they are taken off every part of you is watching and praying that child won't fall or trip, but a healthy mother recognizes that yes , they will fall, they need to fall, and I must encourage them to get back on that bike.
To overwhelm a new mother, to be all Oedipal mama on them is to forever keep training wheels on, and suddenly they come off alarmingly without warning and more suffering is had, more falling, and more pain because they were never encouraged to ride alone or get back on the bike. Worse than this they are never taught that they can.
Granted , I am rather green in the eyes of experience , but age and quantity of time does not necessarily bring forth wisdom. This is extremely necessary to note. I am secure in recognizing the greatest gift I will give to my children is their independence on a personal level and their perpetual dependency on God. My role exists to show them this alone--to Whom they most belong, and with that I trust beyond measure where they will be taken. Primarily let us remember so much of doing the right thing as moms relies upon being who we are in love, and in God, and striving to be that well!
And so, based on my very limited and biased observances here is what everyone in the female population can do to help new moms
- Pray for them- Before you speak, before you offer an act of help, begin in praying for them.
- Pray for yourself- For the clarity to know the importance of healthy detachment and avoid the selfish need to invade the necessary boundaries of a new mother's life.
- Accept that you don't know it all
- Recognize some suffering and struggle as necessary grounds for virtue, but pray to discern when help is necessary.
- Don't take over- It's not your right, or your job.
- Be present, but sometimes that means distantly too - help with a hot meal in the early days , but knowing healthily when to back off, or ask the new mama what type of help she actually appreciates.
- Women don't need more stuff they need to know that they are the MORE.
- Encourage , encourage, encourage, affirm, affirm, affirm.
- And please for the sake of all things. If you know a woman who truly and desperately desires to remain home, support her prayerfully, and help her provide guidance to do so. Remind her, as I once heard Dorothy Pilarski allude to many times The mortgage can wait, the reno is unnecessary , and this time will not be forgotten and you have the fruits of it forever.
- A working mom is NOT a bad mom
And please above all, have recourse to Mary, Mother of us all and the source of all goodness. (CC)
P.S. Having a sense of healthy community is a great way to navigate the journey of motherhood. The Archdiocese of Toronto has a great Mom's Ministry active in many parish communities...for more information check out-- http://www.catholicmomsgroup.com/