It was hot, and the kids were tired. Their mother was, too, but she urged her brood forward onto the waiting train. She spotted four seats at the back of the car – empty and mostly secluded. A middle-aged woman sat two rows ahead, flipping through a magazine.
The little one was at an awkward stage: old enough to skip her nap but little enough to still need it. Today was the kind of day where she had needed it, and of course it hadn’t happened.
At first the little one sat quietly, fiddling with a dandelion she had picked on their walk to the train. The yellow was pretty. It reminded her of bananas.
And that reminded her she was hungry.
“Mama! Banana!” She strained across her mother’s lap in search of the magic bag.
“We can’t eat on the train, love,” Mama said, pointing to a sign on the wall. “We’ll have to wait ‘till we get off.”
Her mother pulled her in close, anticipating what was coming. “Let’s sing a song. Should we tell a story? What did you like about the zoo?”
The little one wasn’t having it. She was hungry – now. She needed a banana – now. Signs and rules meant nothing, and she said so.
And then she was on the floor, rolling and crying and and banging her fists on the floor of the subway train. Her mother tried to pick up but failed; the little girl had mastered the art of boneless escape.
The woman two rows ahead turned around. She observed for a moment, set her magazine to the side, and leaned forward into the aisle.
“You know,” she said to no one in particular, “my children never threw fits like that. I taught them how to be patient.”
I have to admit it’s pretty rampant, and I suppose even I am guilty of the same. Why have we let middle school’s mean girl syndrome creep its way into our feminine communities?
The truth is, we’ve bought a lie.
Several lies, actually.
Lies Mothers Believe, and the Saints Who Show us the Truth
We can do it all – alone (finding community with Jane de Chantal)
I’m not a fan of asking for help. I’m strong. Capable. And frankly, I’d rather do it right the first time, completely on my own.
But we are part of the Body of Christ, designed to work together. St. Jane de Chantal’s friendship with St. Francis de Sales is a perfect example of this. Through the encouragement offered by their correspondence and friendship, Jane opened her home and her order to women who did not fit the traditional model of the religious life. Widows, the elderly – any woman who had come to a vocation through a different path – was welcome in Jane’s order. The gift of Francis’s companionship gave Jane support to fulfill God’s will for her life
We need to be perfect (finding acceptance with Mother Teresa)
How often do we turn down playdates or get togethers because the house is a mess? How much time do we spend on Instagram and Facebook photos, making our lives look just right?
For me, the answer is too often. But the truth is that motherhood is messy. There’s spilled milk and dumped out Legos; dirty diapers and runny noses. We’re called to embrace all of it – in our own lives and in each other’s, accepting the mess as a sign of God’s goodness.
No one knew this better than Mother Teresa, who abandoned a comfortable position in a convent to work with the lowest of the low. She picked up beggars in the street. She held the seriously ill while they died. She didn’t mind the stench or turn away from the chaos.
Mother Teresa saw the face of God in the people she served. We owe it to one another to do the same.
We can’t admit to our weaknesses (growing in empathy with St. Dymphna)
While motherhood is vastly rewarding in many ways, it is also one of the loneliest jobs on the planet. It’s easy to feel as though we are alone. It’s easy to fall into the depths of despair. And then there’s pride – that vicious beast – that prevents us from reaching out.
Fortunately, the prayerful example of St. Dymphna leads us to another conclusion. Just as she was not alone in her battle with her father’s mental illness, we are not alone in the struggles we bear. Admitting our challenges and praying with one another helps us see our place within the Body of Christ and grow closer to the heart of God.
We must cut ties to those who weigh us down (finding fidelity with St. Monica)
Sometimes, people are toxic. And sometimes for our own mental health, we have to walk away from those relationships. But think about St. Monica and her steadfast prayer for Augustine. What would have happened to her wild, ne’er-do-well son had she not prayed unceasingly for his conversion?
Consider the person who frustrates you the most. How do you handle her presence in your life? Do you avoid her calls and requests for conversation? Or do you welcome those opportunities as a moment for grace?
True friendship takes fidelity and steadfast support. When we follow the example of St. Monica and pray for those who frustrate us, all of us will benefit.
Yes, we all need a village.
Yes, we all need support.
Let’s turn our backs on the shifting sands of secular opinion, of the lies we mothers have grown to believe.
Let’s build our village on a firm foundation – the light and the heart of Christ.