Sometimes we hear stories of those moments we can put a finger on, those moments we can say they changed or shaped our lives. They come in different forms; our encounter with Christ e.g. the conversion of Saul, or the day we got saved, our first Holy Communion e.t.c. or the day we fall in love, our first kiss among others. Mine was when I met him. I had just cleared high school, and I left school immediately after my last paper, Accounting, paper 2, which ended at 1630hrs on 11th November 2001. My brother picked me up, and we went home. The following day, I held him in my arms, and life would never be the same again from then on.
No, he is not a boy. Well, he is a boy, but not in that sense. He is my nephew, by then he was only a month old. I fell in love with love, in its purest, gentlest and most natural form but most of all; I fell in love with motherhood. I still remember how tiny he was, I still remember, how he looked at me but most of all I remember how beautiful it felt to hold him in my arms. Ever since then, I have been looking forward to my own motherhood experience.
Someone once wrote that the key to female identity is fecundity. Feminine identity is first bound up with woman’s radical orientation towards child-bearing. From her complexity of genital apparatus to her breasts, a woman is created to bear and to nourish. Even in the Bible, motherhood was a goal for most women. When Isaac was born, his mother, Sarah, said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me” (Genesis 21:6). Hannah named her son Samuel, “Because I asked the Lord for him” (1 Samuel 1:20). And in the New Testament Elizabeth joyfully described her pregnancy saying, “The Lord has done this for me” (Luke 1:25). A friend of mine, mourning the death of her child, said that the most important gift God endowed human beings is the life giving aspect. It is being a woman that eventually defines a woman. It is this same nature that inspires one to be kind to a woman with child whether pregnant or otherwise, and let them not queue or surrender their seats, or just have a nice word or two for her. Recently my sister gave a lady her umbrella, just so that her baby would not be rained on.
Parents view their children with hope. Even in the midst of problems, there is always the feeling that “if I just hang in there, things will get better.” After all, hasn’t the Lord promised, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it?” (Proverbs 22:6). I know of a lady, a mother of four, who gave her children everything she could think they were worth. She is now constantly on physiotherapy due to accumulated stress to the body she accumulated with time due to toiling every day to make sure her children had food on the table, clean water to drink and wash, decent clothes to wear and a roof over their heads. I only hope she can go through this in looking at her children and say, “this pain, it was all worth it”.
Being a mother forces you to live in the present moment, learning the true meaning of unconditional love, the mysteries, the surprises, being greeted when you walk in the door from work every day with such joy and excitement. Being a mother challenges you in every way, it brings you to your edge, it tests your strength, courage and patience. It takes you to your edge and builds strength. It allows you to be a child again in moments. It allows you to appreciate the simple things in life. It allows you to laugh more and not take yourself so seriously. Being a mother reminds you of who you are in the eyes of the beholder. It’s magical and humbling.
They say when one decides to become a mother; they give up themselves. Their beauty, their life, their being for the sake of the new being they bring into the world. It’s like opening a door to a new way of life knowing that once that door is opened, gone through and closed form the other side, it can never be opened. The door literally disappears from our view, our reach. But to what extent we never know until we are graced to be one, or encounter one who gives it all. Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.” Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them. Yet in these pivotal parental roles is the mother. Some feel that the important job in the world was to help children grow, discover, love and learn how to live in this world that is both amazing and alarming. A friend of mine once said that a mother introduces their children to everything then the dad helps along. She even introduces the child to his/her own father. It is such a background that makes the society judge mothers harshly when a child is “vice filled”. A common statement being, when a child excels, they belong to their father, when they wrong they belong to their mother.
Yet amidst all these joys, the motherhood is most noble gift that is under threat. From family planning to planned parenthood to abortion and contraception. Motherhood is being treated as a disease to be rid off in the most opportune moment. Society is treating motherhood, not as the initial queenly attribute it deserves but as a weakness to be overcome. This is so extreme that in a an article in the September issue of The National Mirror, a group of young people interviewed preferred contracting HIV/AIDS to chancing being mothers. This is evident at the rate at which contraceptives are being used, from E-Pills to hormonal pills and injections among others. The things which we are embracing in our young life are the things that threaten our future; as persons and as progeny for the next generation. We may be enjoying our youth, the best way we know how, by exploiting our sexuality in the name of having fun. A time comes when we want to settle down, but our child bearing capacity has been hindered. We start blaming God, and our parents and anyone else we can point a finger on for our own mistake
There is a Jewish saying that goes ‘God could not be everywhere and therefore He made mothers’. A certain Joseph Smith wrote this concerning motherhood; Not only is there no life in this world without a mother; there is no life in the realms that are above and beyond us, unless there is also a mother. Motherhood is eternal with Godhood, and there is no such thing as eternal or endless life without the eternal and endless continuation of motherhood. For as we have a Father in Heaven, so also we have a Mother, a glorified, exalted, ennobled Mother. The first hero a child will know is her mother, the first hero most people name, even to date is their mothers. Mothers are just that, mothers; our little gods, our angels without wings or halo in this world; our beacon of hope, our inspiration, our source of strength, our refuge, our world!
And that’s what I want to be, more than anything else in this world, more than the dreams I dream, of success and recognition, of prosperity and life well lived, I want to be a mother, not just so I can teach them what I was taught, or so I can inspire them to be great, but more so, so that I can marvel at the miracle of life, that is life itself; I can participate in the marvelous act of co-creation in union with God Himself. I want to feel them grow inside me, to feel their heart beat faster than mine, thank God for technology, I want to feel them kick, I want to hear their first cry, to hold their delicate selves in my arms, to teach them love, to show them love, to help them believe in love, because in loving then they will become, the people God wanted them to be, born of God, know God, and be His children.
“home is where mother is” Mother Theresa.