The Hidden Life Of Mothers



One of the biggest myths present in our contemporary society is that being a mother is normal, natural and, subsequently, easy. That because of its very commonness, and therefore ordinariness, all women might successfully undertake this role without any relevant experience or education. That this myth fails to recognise the all too common struggle with infertility is heartbreaking – but not the point I wish to unpack today.

Completely unprepared for the sheer dependency of children, the often monotonous onslaught of work – of all shapes and sizes – with less than optimal sleep, women struggle.

The unceasingly demanding nature of motherhood is one that catches new parents off guard and knocks us for six. How often have I chatted with mothers who admitted that they thought they were smart and capable before having children and then, confronted with the challenges of new parenting, felt utterly useless? How many of these women go on to say that they suffered post natal depression as a result of these feelings of inadequacy and isolation?

Sadly, it’s a recurrent theme. And one a good priest recently meditated upon with us at our local Mother’s Group.

His meditation – I should clarify – was actually on the Hidden Life of Christ. The time before Jesus’ public ministry where he grew up and was formed in that domestic church with Mary and Joseph. That completely ordinary existence that had people questioning Him when he later claimed to be the Son of God.

Jesus lived a quiet, ordinary life of work and obedience in a family environment and was an apprentice to His foster father. He was, to those around him, a completely ordinary man.

This time spent away from the activity of the world, leading an ordinary existence, is one all mothers can relate to.

For many of us, having a child (or more) meant postponing or withdrawing from the very things that had previously defined us. Our full time work, our social circles, our organised and self-orientated existence.

Being at home with children is very much a hidden life. An important and wonderful life, but a hidden one all the same.

As our days are daily tied more and more to home and hearth, we willingly forsake the attractions of a narcissistic society who does not appreciate our position.

If we stay at home we are the women who have rejected feminism and thus should be considered to have nothing worthwhile to contribute to society; if we are working we are the mothers who ‘rushed’ back to work who get respite from the demands of the home.

We are the underappreciated lynchpin of society, the women who form the adults of tomorrow, the first educators in the faith.

We are the unseen household managers whose tasks are monotonous yet vital; groceries, meal planning, ironing and cleaning. We are the homemakers whose duties are referred to as ‘unskilled labour’, the women who have thrown away our potential to live at sub optimal levels.

We are the women judged by other women for choosing to be open to life, to stay at home part or full time, to have x number of children and to raise them the way that we do.

We are the women judged by the world for not being ambitious enough and not contributing to society in a way that they perceive is valuable. We are the women that feminists abhor.

We are women judged for juggling careers and family all the while trying to manage the accompanying mummy guilt. Who daily feel as though they are working two jobs and wonder if women can really have it all without feeling as though they’re being pulled in different directions?

We are the women who worry that we aren’t good enough, holy enough, or together enough. The women who worry if we’ve let ourselves go or lost a part of ourselves somewhere along the way of maternity. That the only identity we have is this role. A role the world tells us is insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

But we are the women who each day make choices for the good of our family and put the needs of our spouses and children ahead of our own – often to our own detriment. The sleep deprived, rundown women who continue to put one foot in front of the other because others are depending on us.

We are the women who will be sanctified by these choices. The women who know that what the world offers them does not compare to the moments of bliss that litter family life; the ups that far outweigh the downs even if the downs seem to be more frequent.

Remember too, sanctification is a hidden thing.

And sanctification in the hidden life of mothers is abundant if we’re willing. Each task, done out of love, offered as prayer, will advance us along the narrow road. The sufferings and sacrifices of this great vocation can be offered in a useful and salvific way.

So, mothers everywhere, embrace the hidden life. Embrace the life of sanctification – because there is one who can see inside your heart, He sees all that is done in secret.

The struggles, the gains, the wins the losses.

He sees you and He loves you.

Even if the world doesn’t appreciate the importance of your daily toil.



Filed Under: Family LifeFeaturedSpirituality

About the Author: Emily is a former ACPA award winning editor and journalist turned stay at home mum and blogger. She lives on a farm in regional NSW with her husband and their five children where she spends the time she should be doing housework reading books and writing posts.

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