Catholic Motherhood

IMITATION

Cloth diapers, EC, bedsharing, breastfeeding, low-tech living, home schooling, natural and unassisted childbirth, hand-me-downs, sunshine, cuddles.

You know where I’m going with this, right?

Yes, aside from circumcision, Jesus and Mary were really a pretty crunchy pair. Alright, we don’t know for sure about the bedsharing,1 cloth diapers,2 or home schooling,3 but about the natural birth and breastfeeding we can be certain.

Multi-tasking: Practicing EC while nursing at around 1.5 months

NATURE AND THE SACRAMENTAL WORLDVIEW

I believe that God created nature in a deeply intentional way. He chose to set the universe off spinning in such a way that we, as particular embodiments of His glory, would evolve from the water and dust, and at the right moment, He ensouled us, imparting unto humanity a divine spark. Our bodies were ready – they had reached the point He foresaw from all eternity; the point where they become a living page from the “book of nature,” to borrow St. Bonaventure’s expression.

Man and woman become physically one, their love integrates them on every level and forms a child, a new breathing image of the invisible God, who will be nourished from his mama’s breast. Our dependence on each other teaches us that we are made for communion – just as the Trinity is an eternally living, wholly spiritual communion of three Persons, One in love, so the family is called to be one in love.

To break that down, our goal as parents is to help our children grow to embrace this vocation to love, however that will be manifested in their individual lives – and to teach love, you have to live love. Bedsharing, breastfeeding, gentle discipline, and listening come naturally.

PARENTAL GOALS

If parental goals are largely subconscious objectives we want our children to reach to thrive in life (think Our Babies, Ourselves), which tend to become conscious when confronted with contrasting parenting styles, then certainly our own beliefs and ongoing reflections about “the good life” shape the way we parent. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. If God is our Father spiritually, and children learn first about God through the sacramental analogy of their natural parents, we have quite a responsibility. We do have an easy advantage – we’re big and strong (omnipotence), we seem to know everything (at first! – omniscience), we keep them safe and well cared for (providence).

Other areas take more effort and awareness. Gentleness and hugs and kisses teach God’s love and desire for communion with us. Listening teaches compassion, tenderness in accepting apologies teaches His mercy. Patience is a big one and a hard one – but God is so incredibly patient with us when we make our seemingly unending mistakes and scorn His love, and I want my children to know that, so patient I must be. Firmness, too – the rules should be clear, and if violated, the consequences should be consistent…but if a sorry little pumpkin wants a hug, it should always be given.

Personalism, rather than materialism, comes in helping children to welcome new siblings and getting creative with DIY, hand-me-downs, cooking in bulk, from scratch, and going without the flashy stuff (Catholics can only use the fertility awareness method to space children, you know!). Teaching beauty is paramount: field trips, hikes, stars, flowers, blowing bubbles, learning music, dancing, preparing feasts, and learning that food comes from trees and gardens and rivers are all so important for children – and indeed, for adults! – to appreciate the glory of God in the natural world, which is His handiwork.

I just pray that my many, nearly inevitable failings in living up to these ideals will not keep my son, still a tiny baby, easy to love and comfort, from knowing the Lord I so want him to enjoy eternal happiness with.

“For God so loved the world that he gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

“For natural Mamas so love their broods that they go through labor, wipe up baby puke, get kicked as their babies fall asleep, give up sometimes alluring professional opportunities, cook endless meals, and offer unlimited cuddles, that their kidlets may not have dysfunctional psyches but enjoy the fullness of a joyful adult life.” (Thanks, Mom.)

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Amy is a Montreal mama interested in the chemistry of baking and candy-making, gardening for clueless urbanites, fermented dairy foods, eyeballing-style sewing, tightwaddery, anything with yeast, babies, cultural anthropology, Catholic ritual, history & spirituality, slow-mail, low-tech living.

Natural Parents Network is happy to present an ongoing series about “Belief and Parenting.” We welcome contributors from any faith (or no faith at all) to speak about how their spirituality affects the choices they make as parents: whether you are a Buddhist whose beliefs led you to gentle discipline, an atheist whose worldview encourages consensual living, a pagan who emphasizes the beauty and reverence of nature, a Christian who seeks biblical guidance, or if you’re walking another path entirely — please share your experiences with our natural parenting community. See our Contributor Guidelines for details on submissions, and then email Dionna {at} NaturalParentsNetwork {dot} com to submit your story.

  1. But as we know, separate bedding for little children is a historical novelty
  2. But clearly it was either that or total EC
  3. Though Mary and Joseph did choose to make the poorer-people’s offering of two doves at her Purification, indicating they probably weren’t able to afford a formal education for Jesus – hence why the rabbis at the Temple were so surprised and awed when he showed up and discussed the Scriptures with them when he was twelve

12 Responses to Catholic Motherhood

  1. Charise@I Thought I Knew Mama  

    I never thought of Joseph and Mary as a crunchy pair – so true!

    I love what you said about personalism rather than materialism and how teaching beauty is paramount! I wholeheartedly agree!

  2. Katie B.  

    One of my favorite quotes from The Crow is “Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of children everywhere.”

  3. Amy

    @Charise: Thank you! Without beauty, how can we teach who God is, much less the specifics of faith? And can I just say I am so excited you commented; I just came across your blog the other day and love it. I actually linked to one of your poems in a post recently.
    @Kate: Thank you! :) Browsing your site now…
    @Katie: I was given a book called “Motherhood – a legacy of love” (L. Skomal) when pregnant which came with a bunch of greeting card with whimsical motherhood-related quotes, and that was one of them! Makes one think.

  4. Moorea  

    So eloquent and special. Proving religion can be full of love instead of restrictive and hateful.
    I’m not Catholic but you make Catholicism look good, girl!

  5. melissa aka equidae

    wonderfully written and explained and i do believe you are right

  6. Stephanie  

    I am not going to lie, I am on the fence about religion, But I really did love your post. It was very sincere, well written & got me thinking which is probably your point! And the fact you are from Montreal is amazing! Thanks for sharing! :)

  7. Christina

    I am a traditional RC (SSPX) and also believe in living a “natural” and “traditional” lifestyle. Unfortunately most people who live that way are left-wing libertarians. You should read the book, “Crunchy Cons…” by Rod Dreher. And by the way, lovely wedding dress and veil!

  8. Amy

    @Moorea: Thank you! I’m sure any Catholic would be delighted to hear that :)
    @Melissa: Thanks!
    @Stephanie: Gotta love la Ville Marie! Hoping your website will go up soon…?
    @Christina: How fun to find other trads here! My husband and I don’t go to the SSPX, but our parish is a long-standing EF parish (in the first picture actually it’s the Angelus Press wedding booklets we’re holding!). To me it’s so obvious that Catholics should be crunchy… I’ll look into the book, thanks!

  9. Juliana Stoy

    I just got married (also in the Extraordinary Form!) and my dress looked just like that. I’m an aspiring homebirth midwife, and I really wish some clever person would write a book looking at crunchy parenting through the lens of Theology of the Body. Maybe I’ll get around to it someday.

    • Amy

      Hah awesome Juliana! I am also an aspiring midwife; I am currently preparing to start nursing next year so I can become a CNM in the States down the line. I have also thought that we really need more crunchy books! Parenting With Grace by the Popcaks is by far the best crunchy, AP Catholic book out there right now imo, do you know it? Congratulations on your marriage!! I will pray for you :)

  10. Juliana Stoy

    I’ll be sure to read that when I start having babies.

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