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Motherhood & Self Care

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Andrew and I are blessed with six children, but a quick head count adds up to just five. Our youngest child, Meg, was born into heaven in 2018—every day our family asks her to pray for us. When I miscarried, friends rushed to my side like Mary to Elizabeth. They brought meals, cried with me and shared their own stories of loss. Though the experience was my own, I felt understood in nearly every aspect of what happened.

Another season of motherhood saw our marriage on the rocks. When our relationship was burdened with pain and anger, my heart was frail; taking care of our children was a struggle. A dear friend sent me a gift and a loving note of support. Her simple gesture told me that I was seen and in her prayers while Andrew and I worked through healing.

None of these gestures solved the problems. The pans of lasagna and conversations didn’t bring my Meg back to me, and the gift didn’t mend our marriage, but when these women stood with me, I held my head a little higher and braved the darkness with their light. To this day, I am grateful to have been carried by such loving friends.

Strong motherhood is upheld not only by friendships, but, even more so, by a robust marriage. If the family is the foundational building block of society, marriage is the foundation of the family. It’s difficult to articulate how much our marriage affects my heart, but suffice it to say, Andrew’s support and love effect a confidence in my motherhood that wouldn’t otherwise be there. Though the state of our relationship doesn’t dictate the quality of my love and care for our sweet crew, it has an impact on it. “Where one alone may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken” (Eccl. 4:12).

But what helps such support penetrate my heart is my own ability to receive it, and that calls for self-awareness and self- care. “Self-care” is a buzz term typically equated with “self- pampering,” but it’s far more foundational than a glass of wine in a bubble bath. A mother’s care for herself—personal prayer time, healthy eating, physical movement and attendance to her emotional needs—puts the proverbial oxygen mask on her first.

Still, when I think of everything I need and want to do to tend to myself, the list feels too long. So I take a minute to talk to my own heart: “There’s a lot going on this morning. How are you with all of it?” Then I let my heart respond with honesty. Whatever my emotions tell me, I take time to validate them, express empathy to myself, and tell the truth; for example, “It’s a challenge to find calm and get much done when you’re interrupted. That’s frustrating. Let’s pause to help the kids, tell them you’re working on something, then choose a time with fewer interruptions.” You’ll find that introspection opens your eyes to inner goings-on, giving you a chance to take care of your emotions instead of pushing them aside.

And along with that support, I rely on Jesus and our Heavenly Mother for grace and guidance in my motherhood. Our Lord experienced the same earthly temptations we do, and He looks upon us with love and mercy. Mary walks with us in all circumstances. She knows the humble crown of motherhood and, though full of grace, she endured unexpected pregnancy, frequent moves, her Child’s death and all manner of trials in between. Though each mother’s challenges differ, we endure similar core experiences that call us to be present to and uphold each other. Mary is not burdened by our need for her and, together with her Son, never ceases to love us.

Let’s be women who rush to another mom’s side when she needs it, and who pray our husbands love us as Jesus does. Let’s make and take time to examine our own hearts, repeatedly turning to Heaven “from whence comes our help.” The result will be a graceful motherhood, strong in love given and in love received.

Katie Sciba is a national speaker and Catholic Press Award- winning columnist. Katie has been married for 14 years and is blessed with six children.

This article appeared in the July 2022 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.

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