Motherhood and Pregnancy are a choice, an act.
Often, pregnancy is viewed just as a time in life to be dealt with or gotten through. Rather, though, it is a whole transformative act and participation. It is not passive but supremely active.
“Let it be done to me according to Your word,” Mary said to the angel Gabriel, announcing that she would allow herself to become pregnant with the Son of God, that she would do pregnancy and motherhood.
Concealed within my body is a unique human person.
This person is very small and currently doesn’t look much like we think humans should look. But nonetheless, this person is present.
Concealed within bread and wine is the God of the universe. More powerful, more intelligent, and more loving than any other being in existence. Ever. In the bread and wine, He doesn’t much look like we think a Supreme Being should look. But nonetheless, He is there.
The changes pregnancy brings cannot be denied.
The body stretches and grows, hormones flood the body bringing on waves of new or intense emotions, brain chemistry changes, often worldviews change. These changes are sometimes physically painful, but even more often they are emotionally and psychologically painful.
When I was pregnant with our first child, I distinctly remember (which is ironic to the rest of the anecdote) driving in the car with my husband. I was telling him something and then, right in the middle of my sentence, I completely forgot what I was saying and could not put myself back on track. I burst into tears. Pregnancy brain had hit! And it took with it part of my wit, which is a piece of myself I treasure greatly.
Pregnancy and motherhood force us to be more than we thought we were.
Who am I without my wit or intelligence? I am not the prettiest, the most athletic, the most healthy, or the most talented. I am not the most popular or outgoing or best liked. But I had my wit. Suddenly, that was being deconstructed.
Mary, a simple, pure Jewish girl, allowed her view of herself and others’ views of her to fall away to become someone greater than she was before. She allowed the view of her purity and fidelity to be stripped away. Mary held all of this, and the hidden years of the life of Jesus, in her heart. She concealed the true vision of God within herself so that she could become Mother of the Church and Queen of the Universe.
Without my wit, I discovered that I am still who I have always been, but now even more so. I am more focused, more passionate, more dedicated, more creative, more intentional. My priorities are more straight and direct. I am more fierce. I am stronger. And I am gentler. I may not be an acclaimed writer (yet…who wants to donate to my Patreon? Button at the end of the article!), but I am a better writer and person than I was before children.
Christ gave His Body willingly.
“This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again” (John 10:17-18). To the Jews and the Romans and whoever else was watching, it looked like Jesus was executed, that His life was taken from Him. But He tells us differently. He tells us that He allowed this Passion, crucifixion, and death to happen to Him. He chose it freely.
As Christ gives His Body willingly, so does a mother. And not just in His death and resurrection does He give His body freely, but in the Eucharist at every Mass. He feeds us with His Body. Likewise, a mother nourishes a babe with her body—throughout pregnancy and afterwards, whether or not she can breastfeed. This cycle of life, death, resurrection, and union is present in every Mass and in every pregnancy.
St. Felicity reminds of beautifully that the sacrifices of motherhood do not take away from who we are. Rather, they are gifts that make us stronger, ready to face anything and ready to be united fully with Christ.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mother_of_God_-Znameniye.jpg