In July and August the grandchildren who live nearby took turns staying overnight with us. It is always a lot of fun, but as I move away from 50 and nearer to 60, I find my energy levels are not what they used to be.
When it was 5 year old Kateri’s turn she wanted her older sister Bella to come with her. We roamed around the yard together, checked on the chickens, played games and fixed dinner together with much laughter and conversation. At one point I watched as they fearlessly climbed a hemlock tree in the front yard.
In the evening we grabbed Andy and went out for ice cream cones and walked to our little town playground. It was a long day.
When I finally had both girls tucked into bed I collapsed next to Andy on the couch, my exhaustion quite evident. That prompted him to comment that I was a “glutton for motherhood”.
At first, I laughed and appreciated his juxtaposition of words in the overlay of phrases. Over the next few weeks, though, I pondered the words and came to see them in another way……or better yet, in a number of different ways.
To begin with “once a mother, always a mother” came to mind. That is a truism that seems to fit a lot of us who have gone through the rigors of raising children. Once they are grown, our mothering continues but in different ways. Then, if one is fortunate, the grandchildren come along and there is ample opportunity to continue the work and joy of motherhood.
Then the saying that “a mother’s love has no end” came floating into the brain. A devoted mother can never truly put aside this love once her children have become adults or have moved on to the eternal shore. It does take another form though for the mother who has a strong faith in the power of prayer.
The mother with a devoted sense of her vocation also moves beyond her own children and family and “mothers” a growing throng of people who move into her orbit, or who are even just brought into her mind as needy children who crave her prayers. To those of us who believe motherhood to be a noble calling and a most worthy endeavor, it is not a burden but gives us a deep sense of fulfillment that we can still use our talents long after we have retired from “active service”.
After more time expired, I came to consider my Carmelite vocation. Those of us in the Carmelite order, whether religious or lay, follow the example and instruction of our Holy Mother, St. Teresa of Jesus, who considered prayer, especially intercessory prayer for priests to be of prime importance. If I am faithful to my vocation as a spiritual mother I can spread myself to mother a great multitude with my prayers and sacrifices. Our hard working priests need this motherhood today more that ever and they can achieve a greater efficacy in the battle for souls with our help.
It was a remark said with humor and in the spur of the moment, but I can truly say that I hope to be a “glutton for motherhood” in all the right ways.
Of course, God always seconds the inspired thoughts and actions with his own words of encouragement, placed before us at the right moment. This one popped out at me at the end of a meditation on the apostolate:
Behold, O Lord, the mission you have entrusted to me, to contribute by prayer and sacrifice to the formation of evangelical workers who will save millions of souls whose mother I shall be.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face
If you would like to read a little book that aptly lays out this program of prayer,
just flip to the back page of the Diary of a Country Mother where
you will see this picture.
I am sure that St. Therese, and Tim, too, would be overjoyed to see a great army of such “gluttons for motherhood”!