Love at Work: 4 Lessons From Motherhood

COMMENTARY: Being a mother allows me to understand a little better our God’s infinite love for us.

Emma Follett looks to Christ and Mother Mary as she and her husband, Isaac, care for their little blessings, Sebastian and Casper.
Emma Follett looks to Christ and Mother Mary as she and her husband, Isaac, care for their little blessings, Sebastian and Casper. (photo: Courtesy of Emma Follett)

On Good Friday, my tuckered-out toddler curled into my arms and took a well-deserved nap. Thankfully, I was not at the service alone, so my 1-year-old was well taken care of, and I could simply relish the cuddles that are so few and far between these days. While I appreciated the chance to hold my child close, it was not long before my arms were aching. After even a short amount of time, 35 pounds starts to feel much heavier. The lesson was not lost on me; as we listened to the story of Christ carrying his much heavier cross with his much sorer body, I was struggling to carry a much lighter, and happier, burden. 

While the circumstances are so entirely different, in many ways, I could understand Our Lord’s love for us so much better while holding my “little cross.” Even though his cross was so heavy, and he knew the way forward promised so much pain, Jesus chose to carry his cross out of love for us. 

Motherhood has provided me so many opportunities to carry my cross out of love for my family, as well as given me the gift of incredible and immense joy that only love can bring. 

The gift of motherhood, a constant learning experience, shows me in big and small ways how I can grow to be a mama like Mary and to learn from my vocation. Here are four lessons I’ve learned (and continue to learn) from motherhood.

Doing “small things with great love” is a lot tougher than it sounds. St. Thérèse of Lisieux is well-known for her “Little Way,” how she strove to do the most mundane of tasks with a joyous heart, happy to show love in whatever way was available to her. That is such a beautiful way to live, but so surprisingly difficult to implement when cleaning the kitchen for what feels like the 200th time in a day. Why is the kitchen always dirty? How much applesauce can we possibly spill in a 24-hour period? Apparently, quite a lot. However, in those moments drenched in the mundane, you can truly offer it up and rejoice a little in the knowledge that you are helping and loving your family, even with this small act. 

There’s always “more” to do; but sometimes you need to just “be.” While there are many opportunities to show your family love through keeping a clean home, it is also a gift to simply be with your children. God has given me so much joy in the simple chance to sit and observe my children. My oldest took all of his books out of his shelf one day. Rather than jumping up to return them, or put the laundry away, I just watched what he did. He took them and very intentionally arranged them in a row across our living room floor. It gave me a good chuckle, and I sat wondering how a child’s mind works and develops. I wish I could see what was going on in his head! 

In those small moments I can give God my exultation in seeing my child learn, grow and play. It’s a gift to see the Father’s love at work in our daily lives, especially in a child’s wonder. 

Motherhood makes one see more clearly Jesus’ call to be like children (Matthew 18:3). I never realized how powerful the gift of motherhood is until I became a mom. Frequently, all it takes is for my comfort and presence to console my child. They are so utterly dependent upon their mother — not only for food and shelter. Little ones crave their mama’s presence to such a degree that even solo trips to the bathroom can be too much of a separation for them. 

How different our lives would look if we had that level of faith and intrinsic trust in our Heavenly Father! If we strove never to lose him from our line of sight and had complete confidence that he will sustain us, just like our little ones, how would our lives change?

When you love so much, you cannot comprehend how you could love anything or anyone more … and then you do. While we prepared for the coming of our second child, I felt so nervous. How could I possibly love this child in my womb as much as the child in my arms? I wanted to be the best mother to both children but had persisting doubts that I would not have enough love left to give. Oh, needless worry! God always provides. Now I know a love even deeper, watching my two sons play together, making each other laugh. Even now, while preparing for our next little gift, I sometimes wonder at the idea of giving even more love than the love I have for my boys, but I trust that the Lord will again show me that I have so much more love to give. Being a mother allows me to understand a little better our God’s infinite love for us and how he invites us to participate in it.

Emma Follett writes 

from Wisconsin.

Ivan Aivazovsky, “Walking on Water,” ca. 1890

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