A Rebuttal to Facebook Moms

Lent is coming up and I am seeing posts and questions in several “Catholic mom” Facebook groups I’m in that bother me. These posts all more or less say: “what are you all doing for Lent? As a mom of (insert any number of kids ranging any ages) my life is already so hectic and busy and I just don’t have time to do anything extra. What do you think?” And without fail there are many comments to the effect of: “oh yes! Being a mom is already a huge sacrifice so take it easy this year and just remember all the little sacrifices you do each day as your Lenten duty.” Last year, having a newborn during Lent, Mark switching jobs, friends and family constantly revolving through our door like a hotel, and experiencing the wonders of postpartum depression, seeing these posts and their soft comments boiled my blood. In Christian charity (and for safety of not being asked to leave the groups) I held my tongue and did not respond. This year I’m much more tempted to respond to these posts.

I am not denying that life as a mother is trying and often times draining. How many times do I have to ask (tell) my toddler to not throw his toy trains and to speak with inside voices? It gets old and I often feel like a broken record with no life left. Each day is filled with little sacrifices; not having any privacy, holding your tongue when you toddler asks you the same question for the tenth time that day, reading the same three books on repeat for an hour even when there’s dozens other books to read, allowing your shoulder to be the perfect tissue for a child’s runny nose, offering all your time and energy to play, cook, and clean with and for your family. It really is exhausting. It is a form of sacrifice. Who I am now is not who I was four years ago before I was married. But, Jesus told us very plainly “whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27) Motherhood is my cross so I need to carry it and follow Him.

But then, why isn’t all the suffering and sacrificing we mothers face good enough for Lent? After all, our job isn’t a 9-5, it’s all day, everyday, with few to no breaks. The argument of not having time or energy seems right and just. But then Jesus also told us that the path to Heaven is narrow and the road to Hell easy. Thus implying that it’s not supposed to be easy to follow Him.

St Gemma Galgani once said “if you really want to love Jesus, first learn to suffer, because suffering teaches you to love.” It’s like the classic hallmark movies project. A love isn’t strong and able to face the challenges of the world until it has been tested and knocked down. Once the couple gets beaten around, perhaps with an illness, accident, loss of a job or loved one, they learn to stand stronger while also leaning into the other. Where before they were paper in the wind, after suffering they are a firmly planted tree able to withstand the storms of life. Turn that from cheesey hallmark to Christianity, and you have the recipe for achieving the greatest reward of all, glory with the Lord!

I am not arguing that every mom should sign up for Exodus 90 for Lent. But I’m also not arguing that it’s good enough to merely give up sweets. We as Catholics are called to suffer to expiate for our sins and help purify our souls to be worthy to stand in front the Lord on Judgment day. We are called to fast, abstain, sweat, shiver, etc. for the sake of our souls and the souls of those we care for!

But then, I saw a comment arguing for a more strict Lenten promise and she was trampled with sayings of “that’s for everyone else, we sacrificed our bodies for our loved ones so we can be the exception to the rule.” What? Mothers are the rule! Look around at any Catholic church and you will find most adult women in it are married women and most of them have children. Mothers are not the exception to rule, we are the rule! Who else would it apply to more than us who raise and guide and model what it means to follow Christ to the future generations?!

When each women stands before God with her betrothed she vows willing to accept the cross of motherhood and all the suffering it naturally brings with it. It is beautiful if a women can quietly and patiently endure all the little sufferings and sacrifices of the day-to-day and offer them up for her soul, her children, or husband. “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ” Timothy wrote (2 Tim 2:3). Being a mother and suffering to protect our children is the battle we face. But Lent calls us to go beyond the usual day-to-day mini battles and turn to face the war. It doesn’t need to be at the level of Exodus 90, but what areas can women cut out, or incorporate prayer into, to provide a worthy offering to the Lord during Lent? I would argue it’s in the little areas that moms find comfort that we should look to for Lenten ideas. Perhaps take cold showers instead of hot, or read books to your kids instead of scrolling your phone, embrace your femininity and dress in skirts and dresses, wake up earlier (and don’t hit snooze) to have quiet time for prayer. A mother’s rest is in little things like hot showers, sitting, wearing yoga pants, and sleeping in if the kids let you. But for 40 days, take the next step or two and offer those up.

We are not called to be lame and do the minimum. We are called to live for God and that takes courage, guts, and self-discipline. So yes, as a mom we sacrifice a lot, but that offers a great opportunity to do more for God during Lent! We should embrace the chance to suffer for God and offer up our suffering for our children and husbands!

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

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