A MOTHER’S REFLECTION ON THE VISITATION

This article is part two in a series reflecting on the Joyful Mysteries from a mother’s perspective. You can find part one on the Annunciation here.

Often, those who embrace a natural family planning method, find themselves in unexpected pregnancies, or have an “excessive” number of kids are not always given the wellest of wishes.

To the mom of many children: “How do you give them individual time?”

To the mom who has suffered pregnancy loss or infertility: “Maybe your body just doesn’t want to conceive.”

To the mom adopting or fostering: “Are you going to be really able to love a child who is not biologically yours?”

The questions and opinions can be really discouraging, if not downright crushing. The more I interact with moms from all corners of the religious and political spectrum, and especially those in Catholic/NFP circles, the more I find that women and mothers feel unsupported, even at times by their own families and friends.

The Gospel account of the Visitation, however, offers a stark contrast of mothers unconditionally loving one another. Newly pregnant Mary hurries to help her cousin in the last months of her pregnancy; Elizabeth sees Mary and speaks words of blessing, joy, and praise, not passing judgment on a situation she does not fully understand. The interaction between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth speaks of a total recognition of the gift of motherhood, however “unconventional” (Elizabeth is old, and Mary is unmarried), and reflects profound joy as they marvel at how God has blessed them in their lives, in particular in their motherhood.

Through this Mystery, I see how God is calling all women, and especially those who are embracing a culture of life in their homes, to be champions of motherhood, even versions that seem “imperfect” or “too much” by an outsiders’ view. Women are thrown extravagant gender reveals and baby showers for the first child; meals are made and other children cared for with an early pregnancy loss. But the more children we have or the more, simply put, “inconveniences” they may cause the less the village that may have rallied the first time continues to show up. Mary and Elizabeth, however, show the importance of being physically, emotionally, and spiritually present for other moms.

I have been blessed with wonderful women who have taught me how to be a better support throughout the journey of motherhood. I would love to share a few practical ways that we can be supportive of all women and mothers, particularly those who embrace life.

  1. Celebrate each life as if it’s the first. One of my favorite traditions was having a get-together—a brunch, a hangout, a dinner—in honor of the soon-to-be mom, regardless of which child she was about to welcome. Someone brought an outfit that this child would be the first to wear. Others gave packs of diapers or wipes. We honored each mom and welcomed each life with the same value as if it were her first and only.
  2. Share your news early with those who will offer prayers and support. This one is a totally personal decision, of course, but I have found those early weeks of pregnancy so isolating. We may feel unable to ask for help as we struggle; if we experience the tragedy of loss, we often deal with our grief alone. I find sharing with like-minded family and friends so edifying to my experience. People have come through so much more than expected, offering prayers, masses, blessed medals, rosaries for me and my child.
  3. Use your gifts to offer tangible support postpartum. Meal Trains are always a good idea, but not everyone is gifted with a knack for home cooking. (UberEats gift card, anyone?) So many friends have offered their particular charisms: watching bigger kids so Mom can rest, offering helping hands at Mass while we adjust to a new person in the pew, folding a load of laundry, offering fasting or prayers for us. While meals and snacks do go a long way, the varied support, especially that which is special to the giver, means so much, too.
  4. Support mom and dad’s relationship. Finding trustworthy babysitters is hard. Paying them and still having money for a date night can be harder. Parents are often in dire need of time together, so my mom friends and I began babysitting for each other, coming over after kids were already in bed to let mom and dad sneak away for a late night date night. We enjoyed helping each other find time to be together without the guilt of always asking grandparents or relatives for whom we couldn’t return the favor.

However we feel called, the Visitation reminds us that being a village is not optional. Mary had every excuse to avoid a long journey, and Elizabeth had every reason for a Jewish woman to snub her “pregnant-out-of-wedlock” cousin. But the gifts they were carrying—the new lives entrusted to them by God—meant that sacrifices and love are the appropriate and necessary responses. Our culture fails to value each life—especially the ones that carry trauma from another home, are lost too early, are the newest in a line of many kids, or are unplanned. We have to step in to be Christ’s hands, feet, and heart to love each one the way He would.Mary, as I embrace my own journey of womanhood and motherhood and look to be a support for others, help me to be selfless like you were. Guide me to use my gifts to bring the gospel and God’s love to those I meet, so we can foster a culture in which all women and mothers have the care and support they need. Amen.

MORE BY THIS AUTHOR

FAMILY LIFE

At the National Eucharistic Congress, Decided Excellence Catholic Media - with the help of Bishop William Waltersheid - will be presenting "Beautiful Revelation: The Eucharistic Timeline". Throughout human history, God has left repeated proof of His presence in the Eucharist and that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Salvation. God has given us the wisdom. Have you taken the time to understand? Read this spiritual journey through time to examine critical moments that God uses to reveal the truth of the Body of Christ.

This will close in 32 seconds