Loading

A mother at heart

Colleen Carroll Campbell

Edith’s insights resonated deeply with me, opening my eyes to truths I had intuited for years but never put into words. I found them especially helpful in making sense of my maternal desires and sorrow over infertility. Finally, I had found someone who took seriously my desperation to conceive a child in my womb, who saw my yearning for biological motherhood as a reasonable response to the way God had fashioned me, physically and spiritually. Edith’s observations about the close connection between a woman’s body and her soul helped me understand why I found it more difficult than John to ignore or compartmentalize our fertility troubles. My monthly periods, and the subtle changes I noticed in my body all month long, kept me continually conscious of the fact that I was not pregnant.

Even as Edith’s views validated my suffering, they challenged me to rethink my fixation on getting pregnant. If motherhood is more about what’s in your heart than what’s in your womb, I needed to stop waiting for a baby to use my maternal gifts. I needed to start recognizing the opportunities I already had to nurture growth in others, defend the vulnerable, and make the world a more loving, humane place.

The prospect frightened me. Since John and I received our first dose of bad news on the fertility front, I had careened between mourning my maternal desires and fighting to suppress them. My frustration at our failure to conceive had often led me to neglect prayer and escape into the excesses Edith warned against: superficiality, covetousness, and the pursuit of prestige.

My escapes took subtle forms. I would spend a few weeks quietly fixating on my weight and clothes, bitterly deciding that if my body could not produce a baby, it must be thinner, sexier, and more stunning than all those bodies that could. I would immerse myself in lavish travel plans, concluding that if John and I were going to be perceived as materialistic yuppies with no interest in children, we might as well play the part. I would dive into my work, not with the sense of duty and balance Edith extolled but with the explicit intention of working too many hours, garnering too many accolades, and earning too much applause to feel the pain of missing out on motherhood – or to feel much of anything, for that matter. None of my escapes lasted for long. I always wound up back at square one, weeping in the bathroom over that accursed pregnancy stick.

The strategies Edith suggested for coping with trials made more sense. I knew from experience that turning my mind to work helped when I found myself mired in self-pity, provided I maintained the balance between prayer, work, and rest that Edith advocated. The sacraments had been a source of strength to me for years, but Edith’s concrete suggestions about prayer reminded me to check in with Jesus throughout the day just as I checked in with John. Her warning against false idols particularly hit home, as I realized that the child I wanted so badly had become one for me.

I began to watch for openings to exercise spiritual maternity in my own life. I did not have to look far. The more active role I had taken in my father’s care allowed me to practice plenty of patience and nurturing. I finally understood the source of that satisfaction that filled me those times that I held Dad’s hand as he walked unsteadily, combed his thinning hair when he had forgotten, and encouraged him as he read to me, for the umpteenth time, an excerpt of scripture from the breviary page he had forgotten to turn. For so long, I had assumed that caring for Dad had nothing to do with longing for motherhood, even though my sorrow over infertility curiously abated whenever I visited my father. Now I realized that while I had been giving Dad my attention, he had been giving me an experience of motherhood. […]


Excerpted from Chapter 4, "A Mother at Heart" of "My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir" by Colleen Carroll Campbell. Copyright © 2012 by Colleen Carroll Campbell. Excerpted by permission of Image Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Topics: Faith , Motherhood

Colleen Carroll Campbell is an author, journalist, television host of EWTNs "Faith & Culture" and former presidential speechwriter whose latest book is My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir. Her website is www.colleen-campbell.com.


View all articles by Colleen Carroll Campbell

Ads by Google
(What's this?)

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

OUR TOPICS

Abortion (48)  Advent & Christmas (19)  Beauty (3)  Bioethics (4)  Books (55)  Church history (17)  Church teaching (32)  Contraception (26)  Culture (123)  Current Events (95)  Dating (15)  Death (6)  Depression (14)  Divorce (7)  Education (14)  Eucharist (4)  Exercise (3)  Faith (224)  Family (89)  Fashion (5)  Feminism (14)  Fertility (2)  Fitness (1)  Food (2)  Forgiveness (18)  Friendship (18)  Generosity (2)  Girl Scouts (2)  Grieving (1)  Health (23)  Home Management (17)  Humor (14)  Leadership (4)  Lent & Easter (13)  Liturgical Year (11)  Marian devotion (9)  Marriage (36)  Mature Years (5)  Meditations (17)  Mental illness (1)  Mercy (3)  Military Families (2)  Ministry (5)  Miscarriage (1)  Motherhood (58)  Movies (2)  Music (5)  Natural Family Planning (2)  Nutrition (4)  Parenting (44)  Personal Growth (106)  Politics (4)  Pope Francis (3)  Pornography (3)  Prayer (34)  Pro-Life (27)  Psychology (1)  Reflections (7)  Relationships (44)  Religious freedom (11)  Religious Vocation (1)  Saints (15)  Scripture (7)  Service (8)  Sexuality (19)  Single years (4)  Social justice (1)  Social Networking (5)  Special Needs (3)  Spirituality (2)  Suffering (15)  Suicide (1)  Travel (11)  United Nations (1)  Welcome (1)  Women in the Church (6)  Women's Health (20)  Workplace (12)  Writings of the Saints (10)  Young Women (40) 

Oct
1

Featured Videos

Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Interview with Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See on the persecution of Christians
New book 'The Vatican unknown'
A Look at India from Rome

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 9:57-62

Gospel
Date
10/01/14
09/30/14
09/29/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Job 9: 1-12, 14-16
Gospel:: Lk 9: 57-62

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »

Saint
Date
10/01/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 9:57-62

Homily
Date
10/01/14
09/30/14
09/29/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: