Follow-Up to the All-Powerful Mother

After last week’s post on the All-Powerful Mother, I started to think about how we, as mothers, can ensure that we are setting ourselves up for success in our interactions with our husband and children. If it is really true that we “possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous” for our families, then we need to be intentional about making sure that we are physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy ourselves. How can we do this?

Of course, daily prayer is always the best place to start, and regularly receiving the sacraments of holy Eucharist and Confession are also crucial. After these essentials, however, everyone’s needs are going to be different and will vary depending on temperament, stage of life, etc. If I am a nursing mother of 2 young children, I am going to have very specific needs when it comes to nutrition and sleep, for example. In order to set myself up for success, I will need to make sure that I can nap at some point during the day, eat and drink plenty, and take care of my physical recovery after giving birth. Another example could relate to temperament; if I am an extrovert, I will need to make sure that I am engaged in playgroups and nights out with my friends in order to feel energized. If I am an introvert, on the other hand, while I may still enjoy participating in activities, I will need to make sure that I have at least 10 minutes to myself every day in order to re-charge, or else I will feel physically and mentally exhausted all of the time.

My challenge for each of you today is to take some time to figure out what your needs are – physically, mentally, and spiritually – and to write them down. If you’re stumped, think about your “good days” and your “bad days.” What are the triggers that set you off on a downward spiral? Lack of sleep or exercise? Busy schedules? Feeling isolated from your friends? Messy house? Now, think about what helps you to remain joyful and patient in your daily family life. Is it frequent conversations with your husband? Regular exercise? Small, thoughtful gifts or acts of service from your friends or spouse? There are no right or wrong answers here, and believe me, it isn’t selfish to do a self-assessment like this once in awhile. You are simply taking the time to be honest with yourself, with the greater goal of becoming a more joyful and peaceful individual. Who could argue with that?!

Once you have come up with a couple of items, bring your list to prayer and ask God to help you come up with a plan of action. You may start with just one or two small goals that will help you in your daily life, but the point is to be intentional about what you need in order to set yourself up for success. Daily life as a mother can be tough, and there are many trials that will come. Our children need us to remain joyful and steadfast through it all, and we need to be honest about how we can make this happen!

Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us!

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  • Juris Mater

    Katrina, I LOVE this, thank you for sharing both your wisdom and your professional expertise in encouraging us to replenish ourselves. It’s so important–we can’t give what we don’t have, so everyone suffers if mom is constantly beyond burned out.

  • Great words of wisdom here. We need to take the time to care for ourselves, and to pray about what we really need (vs. want) on a regular basis, and how those things can be worked into our routine. I think moms who fail to self assess like this wind up burned out, stressed out, and depressed, and then they cannot give others what they need.

  • Bethany

    Kat, I love the recommendation you gave to take what we assess and offer it to God. In the past, I might have prayed for God to show me areas needing more attention, but never have I taken my eventual list and prayed how He might help me fulfill my needs. Beautiful! I’m going to remember this…

  • XY

    I think the direction of this post is 95% spot-on, but there’s a cultural trap I want to explicitly mark off. In political philosophy, “need” describes a three-part relationship of the form A needs B to do C, e.g. Congress needs the executive branch to carry out the law. Historically with the rise of psychology in the twentieth century, people began to speak of concepts like “developmental needs,” “psychological needs,” and “survival needs,” e.g. infants need frequent warm physical touch to feel safe or to create a safe foundation for containing frustration to mature, etc. Often, the goal of the need, the C part of the equation, was implied, but over time, we’ve lost sight of it. And now “needs” have become almost free floating amorphous abstractions. If we’re not careful, we can forget their original purposes and have a hard time prioritizing. So if you’re feeling “needy,” remember that most days you don’t ready need all that much to survive. And while it takes more to thrive, there are many different ways to reach different goals of various import, so you might “need” less than you think. By integrating your sense of “need” with your goals, you can strike a balance in your thinking between intro- and outrospection.

    I think that children definitely need mothers and/or other caregivers to provide a “good enough” warm and stable “holding environment” in order to reach their full potential as adults, but I don’t think that requires mothers to constantly shine rays of benevolence and emotional health. Mothers are ultra-important and ultra-powerful, but they’re not and don’t need to be omnipotent to raise wonderful offspring.

  • buildingcathedralstexasmommy

    This is a great thing to think about at the beginning of a year, when we are establishing new routines for our families and selves! Thank you!