Motherhood, Maternity, and Mortification

Motherhood, Maternity, and Mortification

Have you ever heard the saying that when you pray for patience, God doesn’t give you patience, but opportunities to work on being patient? Well, I’ve been thinking about that this last week a lot. Last week my doctor called to tell me that I had gestational diabetes, and I cried like I had gotten some cancer diagnosis. 

Bad things don’t happen to me in my pregnancies – the hard part comes post-partum for me. I’ve already been feeling sick and sore and so ready to be done being pregnant only at 29 weeks. I’m tired all the time and slightly overwhelmed, so this news put me over the top.

Once I learned what gestational diabetes is and how to manage it, though, I saw God in it. I had been feeling like I needed more discipline and order in my life, and I wanted to cut back on my sugar intake. So hence, gestational diabetes, where I have to watch everything I eat and write it down and take the glucose test 4 times a day. And unlike many diagnoses that people get every day, mine will go away after I give birth.

The glucose test. God bless all of you with diabetes out there. I hate pricking my finger. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but right now, I still dread it. So, I have found ways to make it meaningful. I offer it up for those struggling with infertility or other health issues, I tell Jesus I love him, I pray to unite this tiny offering to the cross. And the more I offer up this little sacrifice, the more I realize that motherhood is all about mortification, and the way to holiness is to offer it up and unite it to Christ.

Motherhood is not a contemplative vocation; it is very active (like “chasing around a 2 year old to change his diaper” kind of active). But it is very, very holy. Each day brings new ways to grow in virtue, provided we embrace the opportunities to grow in those virtues by renouncing our own desires and putting others first. How many times do I get the chance to practice mortification and unite those little sufferings to the cross? I lose sleep in the middle of the night to take care of the kids or pull them into my bed, I eat lunch an hour after everyone else because I’m feeding them first.  I don’t often buy myself new clothes because I am buying their clothes first.

And then don’t get me started on pregnancy! Between varicose veins, morning sickness, sciatica, bladder problems, food cravings, weight gain, etc. Everything in my body is laying itself down out of love for the little baby I’m carrying inside. And it hurts, I’m tired, and I can hardly bend down to put my shoes on. Motherhood truly is a gift of self.  

But when I stop complaining about my pregnancy pains and diabetes diagnosis and loss of sleep, and when I start seeing the possibility of grace and virtue in those instances, my life changes. My vision looks upward to heaven, where love reigns. And I see in these mortifications how they are molding me in the image of love.

So at each meal when I choose carefully what I eat, and an hour after when I take my test, I am reminded to be disciplined and to accept the opportunity for virtue. Please Lord, help me to be more like you by the end of this pregnancy. And somebody, please bring me a cinnamon roll the morning after I give birth.

“And Jesus said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

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