A Mother for My Motherhood
If I ever become a saint – I will surely be one of “darkness.” I will continually be absent from Heaven – to light the light of those in darkness on earth. — Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Growing up as a non-Catholic, of course I knew who Mother Teresa was. Maybe not a whole lot, but I knew the “important” details. She was a founder of an order who served the poorest of the poor. She was humble in every way. Overall, an exceptional human being. But, I never gave her much thought beyond those basic details. Even after becoming Catholic and reading her posthumous autobiography, I just considered her someone to be admired; certainly a saintly woman, but not someone who I could really relate to.
I became a mom in September of 2013. While I was in love with our little boy, I spent quite a bit of time feeling like I wasn’t cut out to be his mother. Month after month, I felt like I just wasn’t getting into the groove of motherhood. Everything felt so hard; wasn’t it supposed to come natural?
After some red flags on some routine blood work for me and a struggle to gain weight for him, we traveled back and forth to labs to determine what was wrong with each of us. We each got our diagnosis. He began to thrive, I felt like I was still withering away. The medicine I was on, my supposed cure, was making me feel even worse than I had before. After a few months of hoping my body was just adjusting and that I would soon turn the corner, my husband declared that enough was enough. The next day I called the doctor’s office and informed the nurse that I would no longer be taking those pills and that she needed to get me in to see the doctor as soon as possible. She argued with me, but I wasn’t having it. Everything felt like it was going wrong and I needed better answers.
I went in to her office, carefully thought-out notes and questions in hand. I was prepared for a fight, since I felt like I had been fighting one thing or another since the day my son had been born. I left the office reeling in a different way. “Perhaps you just have some lingering effects of Postpartum Depression.” By now, our son was over a year old. Postpartum Depression? Why hadn’t anyone said anything like this before?
In February this year, I found myself staring at a positive pregnancy test. We had been trying, so it wasn’t like this was a shock to me. But, instead of the joy and excitement I expected to feel, I just felt scared. A lot of those same thoughts and fears from my early motherhood days came creeping back to me. That, combined with an early health scare, I felt like I had reached rock bottom, both mentally and spiritually.
About that time, a received a surprise in the mail. A dear friend had ended up with two copies of My Sisters the Saints and generously sent one to me. I began reading it and was struck by how these women in heaven had had such an impact on the author’s life. As I read her chapter on Mother Teresa, I felt like I was being hit by a ton of bricks.
I had tried reaching out to different saints throughout my struggles, but I never quite felt like I was talking to the right one. Most of the time, I felt like I was really talking to a friend who truly cared, but couldn’t quite offer the help I needed in that moment. Reading about Mother Teresa, her impact, and the quiet, spiritual pain she had suffered spoke to me in a new way. My life, my pain, my struggles – they were all so different than hers. But, our difference were no matter; I had found my friend in heaven!
In the months since that discovery, I have found Mother Teresa to be an invaluable source of help and comfort to me. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that this small, unassuming nun would become one of my greatest allies in motherhood.
Since our friendship has begun, I have really started to become more proactive as we begin to prepare for baby’s arrival. I now know PPD is a very real possibility for me and I am looking at ways that we can make the transition smoother, and how I can do a better job of taking care of me. I would be a liar if I said I wasn’t still frightened of the unknown, but Mother Teresa’s intercession has really helped bolster my courage in the midst of my fears and anxieties. Truly, she has become a light in the midst of my darkness.
In a dark time she is a burning and a shining light; in a cruel time, a living embodiment of Christ’s gospel of love; in a godless time, the Word dwelling among us, full of grace and truth. For this, all who have the inestimable privilege of knowing her, or knowing of her, must be eternally grateful. –Malcolm Muggeridge
Emily is a wife and stay-at-home mom living the Midwestern dream with her little family. She is a lover of chocolate, coffee and comfy sweaters. You can find out more about her and read her ramblings over at Raising Barnes.