“In order to understand the greatness of a woman's mission, we must open our minds and hearts to the supernatural. It is the key that will reveal to us the greatness of femininity.” —Dr. Alice von Hildebrand

When I read Carrie Gress' “hit-the-nail-on-the-head” Register blog “Stay-at-Home Moms Have 4 Tough Tasks” I thought, “Hallelujah – someone out there understands. Someone genuinely intelligent gets what ‘my deal’ and the ‘deal’ of so many other stay-at-home-moms is.” The struggles of being home all day with children are so real and biting to the spirit – but, nevertheless, so are the rewards.

I couldn't help but be inspired to provide a response to her blog, hoping it would help the same mothers she speaks of.

First, Gress addresses the lack of preparation that is stacked up against young women entering into motherhood these days. This is true – terrifyingly so.

I was the typical case. After a highly successful experience in college, years of missionary work and fulfilling a professional job as a writer, I was called to do some pretty wacky things within days after professing my marriage vows. Getting pregnant on honeymoon night was a pleasant surprise, but nonetheless, a shock. During the first year of marriage, I was challenged with losing countless meals due to morning sickness (I'll spare the icky details), carrying around a watermelon for months, being home with a colicky baby in a teeny-tiny apartment for blizzard-struck days and days upon end, adjusting to a whole new culture (I moved across the country to marry)... and the list continues. And, to make matters worse, I knew nearly nothing about what I was supposed to spend my days doing – breastfeeding day and night, swaddling and carrying newborns in baby slings, changing diapers, sewing, cooking, cleaning, keeping toddlers under control at Holy Mass, living on a super-tight budget, teaching dreamy kids to read, and well, winning the usual marriage battles.

In the end, I discovered the value of these “wacky things,” and continue to discover the extraordinary power behind each one of them. Things I had been brainwashed by our culture to think as foolishly simple, somewhat meaningless, and boring were now being unveiled before my eyes as tremendous acts of love – profound spiritual endeavors capable of, ultimately and fabulously, changing the world. I now see that, as Donna Marie Cooper-O'Boyle writes in Prayerfully Expecting: “The Fiat of the Annunciation is repeated every time a woman accepts the incarnation of love... The Creator's majesty descends upon her marriage as she becomes the guardian of this new precious life. Motherhood remains an awesome privilege.”

Although for a lot of us, it may be too late to prepare ourselves to enter motherhood, it is never too late to reflect on the nobility and beauty of motherhood, or catechize ourselves about its discreet, yet prominent place in the life of the Church. St. Teresa of Calcutta once said, “Mothers are the heart of the home; they build family life by wanting, loving, and taking of their children. Mothers make the home a center of love. Their role is sometimes hard, but there is the example of the Blessed Virgin, who teaches us to be good with our children.”

Our girls can be taught, from early on, what the value of motherhood is, and how to prepare themselves for it, or at least prepare themselves to respect it greatly, even if they do not become mothers themselves. Works promoting motherhood and family life, such as St. Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body, Embracing Motherhood by Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle, The Privilege of Being a Woman by Dr. Alice von Hildebrand or the Raise Happy Children series by Mary Ann Budnik can be read by both male and female high school students. In addition, requests can be made for more comprehensive inclusion of courses in the domestic arts in our schools and home education programs. And, most importantly, mothers and grandmothers can be encouraged to pass on family homemaking traditions to their daughters and granddaughters.

Second, Gress talks about the loneliness and isolation so prevalent in the life of mothers today. Mothers who want to care for their children at home are too often left without proper outlets of socialization, not to mention understanding friends and relatives. I once heard an empathetic priest talk about a homeschooling mom that was known to place orders at Land's End and other businesses just looking for an adult to talk to. I think some of us can relate – just a few words of adult conversation on a day when you are surrounded by only little children can be a pretty fantastic experience (trust me)!

Some remedies for this isolation can be online support groups for mothers, or family members giving Mom a chance to go to a women's retreat or exercise with a friend. Homeschooling co-ops or mothers groups at schools can also be a great help, not to mention Christian mother's fellowships on the parish level.

Third, Gress discusses the plain fact that society doesn't value children. While a mother feels she is sacrificing her all to give blessed souls to the Lord and His Church on earth, she can often feel ostracized for her openness to life. Unfortunately, this problem, which really does perplex me at times, isn't an easy fix (I mean, how can people expect the world to even continue without kids, or be a happy place? I suppose people would rather visit a mortuary than an elementary school?). As St. John Paul II, who was, in my mind, a champion in support of motherhood, once wrote:

“Furthermore, the mentality which honors women more for their work outside the home than for their work within the family must be overcome. This requires that men should truly esteem and love women with total respect for their personal dignity, and that society should create and develop conditions favoring work in the home.”

Educating others continually about the dignity of life from conception until natural death can do great good, as well as promoting family values in general. Businesses allowing mothers to work from home part-time should be applauded. Home business opportunities which allow Mom and Dad to spend more time with their children may also be an honorable option.

Fourth, her blog addresses the lack of generational support when it comes to raising a family – especially one that is larger than the average American family. Gone are the days when grandma took a primary place in caring for her grandchildren and helping to educate them on a regular basis – but it doesn't have to remain that way. By keeping as close as we can to family members and enjoying mutual assistance on the difficult journey of life, we will be doing wonders of good for our own children and all of society.

Truly, mothers do face these “four tough tasks,” but they also can be given God's grace to confront them with courage and be successful. Mary, Mother of Jesus, pray for us!