Love, support, require
Thank you, women who are mothers! You have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail. This experience makes you become God's own smile upon the newborn child, the one who guides your child's first steps, who helps it to grow, and who is the anchor as the child makes its way along the journey of life.
From ‘Letter to Women’ by John Paul II
How can one be a good mother in the world rushing to no one knows what? Thousands of women ask this question every day. Somewhere between changing pampers, wiping the nose, solving ‘big or small’ problems, finding a toy, cooking, ironing piles of shirts, shopping and professional work there are thoughts that life has little to do with the relaxed heroines of soap operas for whom the only problem is to choose the colour of dress for an evening walk. Daily jobs, including the professional job and ‘voluntary’ housework embracing the activities of baby-sitter, cleaning woman, laundress, cook…, do not leave much time for reflection. Only late in the evening when all have gone to bed you ask whether it was more important to stay extra hours at work, to do laundry or perhaps to read fairy tales or go for spring walks with your child. ‘First you are a mother and then an employee’, decisively says Katarzyna Siedlecka, a psychologist from Lublin. She knows perfectly well that this unpopular statement usually evokes fervent discussions, for example on the topic of self-fulfilment but as a mother she realises even more what children really need. ‘To be a mother means to love, support and require. To love with unconditional love, love that is admiration of the miracle of life; love without any conditions, the kind of love St Paul wrote about in his Letter to the Corinthians’, she says. ‘Building on such a kind of love one can make requirements. One should also support children in their difficult processes of growing up and maturing; to show emotions, to respect, to grant the right to experience difficult feelings; to support when they make mistakes, when they are naughty. It also means to require things, to set clearly defined limits and establish principles, resulting from the accepted system of values. Above all, mother’s obligation is to form wisely her spirit and concern for her own development.’
In the relativized world that is experiencing a crisis of values it is fashionable to desire individualism, developing your own self at all costs. Today parents are torn by doubts whether to bring up children or to fulfil themselves. When all things are doubted many adults have doubts what is true, valuable, worth of interest. ‘We are experiencing a crisis of hope’, K. Siedlecka thinks. ‘Fr Jozef Tischner wrote that we broke down, we did not see any sense in realising the values that had determined directions for generations. These difficulties, which appear while experiencing motherhood, result from the present cultural, social and economic situation. Therefore, I want to stress that one should form the spirit. In spite of the complicated situation a believer should not have bigger problems. You should simply ask the fundamental question, ‘What is most important in your life? If God is most important, then systematic prayer, reading the Holy Scriptures and giving testimony are your life and will be the best remedy for many problems’ the psychologist advises. ‘The extremely essential thing is that what I say is actually realised in my life. Children look at us, see all lack of clarity. A parent that declares that truth, love, honesty and work are the most important things and he or she does not respect these truths in his/her life becomes unreliable.’
The world offers many quick solutions to all questions how to be a good mother and a good father. In long term none comes true and on the contrary, they deepen the tragedies at home. ‘You must say to yourself that being a parent is hard. You do not become a good mother within a day; it is actually a process that never ends. Therefore, it is worth defining at the beginning what should come first and what should come later. If you have children you are obliged to provide security, care; to dedicate your time; work is at the second place’, Katarzyna thinks. ‘Then it is not hard to make choices. You can always find the golden mean and balance. I believe that you can, without any damage to your work, e.g. professional work, in which we are obliged to fulfil our duties, be a good mother. Because a man who is left to himself meets much more difficulties it is worth ensuring support and use the riches of the past generations. You can refer to the experiences and knowledge of your grandmothers and mothers, to your intuition and experiences’, Katarzyna Siedlecka proposes. ‘Above all, believers should seek support in God and the Mother of God who is a model of perfect mother. How then can one be a good mother? Love, support and require. This has been really proven by generations. It is enough to look around and to look at the deep wrinkles on the foreheads and work-worn hands of mothers, grandmothers and aunts, not only on the Mother’s Day. They will tell us everything about sleepless nights, broken knees and first A grades at school, about love that goes beyond all limits.