Tires screeched. Someone laid on their horn. A flash of red tail lights swerved into my lane. I slammed on the brakes, gripping the steering wheel with my left hand as my right went flying over to the passenger side. My arm instinctively formed a safety bar in front of the person next to me.
All the cars involved in those few scary seconds passed by each other with a few inches to spare and the drivers, myself included, were able to compose themselves and continue on the road ahead.
As I pushed my stomach back down where it belonged, I turned to my passengers to make sure they were alright.
In the car with me were two of my neighbors, both several years older than I and both with young children. We were on our way to the store to find a new outfit for the friend sitting in the front with me. She immediately burst into laughter and said, “Wow! You have the ‘mom arm’!” Then she turned to the back seat to face our other friend and asked, “Doesn’t she have the ‘mom arm’?”
My friend sitting in the back leaned forward and joined in the laughter, “Yes, she does! Dang, Caitlyn! You are totally going to be an awesome mother someday. You have great instincts!”
You are totally going to be an awesome mother someday.
Those words ring bittersweet in my mind today. They are a glimmer of hope for what’s to come with a tinge of sadness about what has… or hasn’t… happened.
In just a few days, my husband and I will be celebrating our second wedding anniversary. They have been the best two years of my life, but I would be lying if I said they haven’t been marked with bits of tragedy and disappointment. We were married in May, the month of Our Blessed Mother. From the moment we were husband and wife, I was ready to follow in Mama Mary’s footsteps and accept motherhood.Two miscarriages and many months of waiting later, here we are. Still childless.
However, I have realized that my friend was correct when she said I would be “an awesome mother someday”.
In almost every group of friends, there is the “Mom Friend”. You know who I am talking about… The one who is protective and responsible. The one who keeps an eye on all the others. The one who is always there with a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. The one who brings the snacks.
I am the “Mom Friend”.
I can’t help it; I am constantly trying to care for and love others. Most of the time, it is subconscious. Some people have told me I am weird for doing this; That I care too much and love too deeply. If you are in tune with your feminine instincts, you can probably relate to this feeling- even if you don’t have any children of your own.
Why is this?
Because all women are called to exercise maternity in the world!
Saint Edith Stein sums it up nicely in The Ethos of Women’s Professions, “Woman naturally seeks to embrace that which is living, personal, and whole. To cherish, guard, protect, nourish, and advance growth is her natural, maternal yearning.”
There are two kinds of maternity: physical motherhood and spiritual motherhood. Only some women are called to physical motherhood, raising little ones into this world as biological, adoptive, foster, or stepmothers… but ALL women are called to spiritual motherhood! This means nurturing the spiritual, moral, emotional, and cultural life of others- something you can do no matter your age, vocation, or state in life.
What is spiritual motherhood?
You may be thinking the same thing I was when I first heard the term “spiritual motherhood”… What on earth is that and how do I do it? Well, in a nutshell, it’s a way to care for souls by imitating Our Blessed Mother and living out our call to holiness.
If you want to see what spiritual motherhood looks like, you need not look further than Mama Mary, the physical Mother of Christ and the spiritual Mother of the Church. She’s the whole package! She fully accepts God’s design for her motherhood, keeps Christ close in her heart, distributes graces to humanity, and prays for all of her spiritual children…If you want to learn more about how she is the Spiritual Mother of Humanity, I recommend this post from Dr. Mark Miravalle.
We can also find examples of spiritual mothers- married and unmarried, with children and without children- by looking to the saints! Some of my personal favorites are St. Anne, St. Frances of Rome, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. Agnes, and St. Joan of Arc.
How can we be spiritual mothers?
In line with following the example of Our Blessed Mother, we must reflect the love and life of the Gospel in our daily lives. The works of spiritual mothers can be expressed in many different types of ministry and prayer- and you don’t need any offspring to do them! Here are some examples:
- Keep Christ close in your heart by imitating Mary
- Fully and actively participate at Mass
- Wash the sacred linens for Mass
- Go to Eucharistic Adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament
- Recognize, affirm, and protect human dignity and life at all stages
- Pray the Holy Rosary
- Help clean the Church
- Practice the art of friendship and hospitality
- Cook a meal for a priest
- Offer up work and sacrifices
- Be a mentor to others when asked for guidance
- Teach Faith Formation/ RCIA/ be a Catechetical Leader
- Pray the Liturgy of the Hours
- Spread joy
- Perform spiritual and corporal works of mercy
- Help others with acts of charity and encouraging words
- Pray for others, especially priests
- Nurture others to help them be who God created them to be
It doesn’t matter if you are sick or healthy. It doesn’t matter if you are an unmarried girl or an aging widow. It doesn’t matter if you are childless or have enough kids to make it onto a reality TV show…
We can ALL be “an awesome mother someday”.
And that someday could be today if we embrace our God-given maternity and practice spiritual mothering.