One of the most rewarding aspects of Catholic motherhood is the way in which God shapes and molds our hearts. Melody Lyons shares the profound message that God has not made us for perfection – he has made us for perfect love.
“Mom… you would never have let me do that when I was his age!!”
My oldest kids never miss an opportunity to tell me how much I have changed since they were younger; comparing the way I mother the little ones and my current “rules” against their memories. They’re wrong and they’re right.
They’re wrong that I’ve fundamentally changed my mothering. But they are right that I’ve tweaked my methods over the years to match what I’ve learned about what is and what isn’t important.
They don’t really know this but they’re sensing a little of the huge transformation that I’ve made as a human being over the course of their lives. It’s inevitable. If we live well, life is transformative. And motherhood… well… it has the power to shatter the old mask to reveal a more authentic (and often raw) human being. It can be a painful place at times but is necessary for God to refashion us… to make us more wholly who we are meant to be.
Catholic Motherhood is Transformative
Twenty years ago, I waddled through the doors of St. Joseph’s hospital with an enormous pregnant belly and walked out again with a tiny baby in my arms. He was my first child and if I would have had a glimpse of what the next twenty years had in store, I would either have walked right back into the hospital to try to give him back… or got down on my knees right then and there to give public thanks and praise to God.
I thought I knew then what motherhood was (Look! A baby!) but after having 7 more children following our trailblazer, my perspective has changed. My first feelings about motherhood (I would not go so far as to call them thoughts) were that I was now a pretty big deal! I was in charge of a little person – kind of like a little league coach – and my job was to provide input for his system (mind, body, and soul) so that he would become a happy success in this world and the next.
What the last two decades have taught me is that the power of motherhood doesn’t rest in the managing of the people, but in the loving of souls.
They learn who they are, for what purpose they have been made, how to love, and how to be loved… from me. Not primarily from reading books or listening to lectures, but in the way that I treat them.
Motherhood is a practical application of the Gospel message where we come face to face daily (sometimes hourly) with the surprisingly hard truth that success really is about love, not hustle; and whether I have laid down my life for love or for my own ego.
When God Breaks Down Your Mask
As my children get older, that reality hits painfully hard as I learn that the greatest gaps in their formation have been primarily these matters of the heart. I can’t say that I’m a much better mother than I used to be because I don’t think I am. But I can say that I am a different mother… and that my transformation has been a matter of both necessity and understanding.
My first years of mothering were largely about my satisfying my ego.
I was certainly choosing love in the daily care I gave my children but when they began to thwart my plans and assert their free will, I felt like a failure. I was hurt, I was angry, and I was sure that God had chosen the wrong woman for the job.
My transformation has been about learning my true role in raising these kids, allowing myself and my dreams to be broken and refashioned for something greater, and allowing love to lead instead of fear and a desire to control.
Truth be told, I consider myself pretty mediocre (or not so good) with many practical aspects of motherhood. That can weigh heavily on a maternal soul. But God has transformed me… not in a way that makes me outstanding in matters of running a household… but in matters of the heart and soul.
It’s not about me anymore. And I’m learning – finally – that this way of motherhood is less about my accomplishments and all about becoming the arms of mercy and love for my children.
There have been many days when I’ve sat in a puddle of tears because I believed I knew what I was…
I now know that those moments are the heavy work of transformation where I learn to set down whatever is left of my rigid pride and lean into the cross of sanctification.
God has not made me for perfection, he has made me for heroic love.
To both give it and receive it.
To recall that I am both mother and daughter.
To recall that my greatest gift to my family is not just the service I provide, but the full expression of Christian joy.
I am not a hyped-up, under-qualified, misplaced nanny. I am a word of love spoken by the Father for the joy and salvation of my family. He has transformed me through my vocation and He is clearly not finished with me yet.
Thanks be to God.
Melody is a happy wife of 21 years, mother to 8, author, chronic illness survivor and thriver, speaker, aromatherapist, business owner, home educator, dreamer, Jesus lover. She has been writing on and offline for 15 years but more recently has found a passion in serving others through natural health solutions. You can find her at The Essential Mother and on Facebook and Instagram.
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