I ran around my house from one child to the next like a crazy woman. How could all five children have a feverish, vomiting-inducing flu at the same time? There wasn’t enough of me to go around for all their needs—to hold their hair back, to bathe them, to hold and hug them, to give them medicine that was “yucky!” and to tuck them in (with a bowl!). And oh, the cleaning and laundry that would follow!
I collapsed at the end of the day, looking like a wounded soldier limping back from a great battle. My oldest daughter fell asleep waiting for me while I was still attending to the others. I felt like a failure. I recalled those painful words a family member said to me, when we first announced my fifth pregnancy: “Well, I just hope you can handle it.” Maybe she was right. Maybe I couldn’t handle it, after all.
After washing the vomit out of my hair, I sat down to catch up on the President’s speech at the March for Life. I didn’t expect it, but when I heard his words, a tear rolled down my cheek.
“Mothers, you are heroes. Your strength, devotion, and drive is what powers our nation. Because of you, our country has been blessed with amazing souls who have changed the course of history.”
Heroes are those brave souls who recognize that there’s a battle going on, and they show up—on the front lines. Heroes courageously offer the best of their bodies and their hearts for the sake of bringing forth goodness in a world where darkness looms, and evil is always on the horizon. This is the heart of the Gospel today: “You are the light of the world” (Mt 5:14). The city is in darkness, a terrible darkness. And heroes are desperately needed.
So dearest mamas, if you have ever:
– offered your own body and blood in the grueling marathon that is childbirth and recovery;
– braced yourself for the pain when your baby first latches;
– pulled your body out of bed for the eighth time in one night;
– had to tell your child “no” and a tantrum ensued;
– felt that you might scream if your older children don’t stop bickering;
– winced when you got dirty looks because your child was too loud at Mass;
– tried to teach good habits, but there’s always clothes on the floor;
– pulled some food out of your van that was so old you didn’t even know what it used to be;
– worried that your child still has a lot of maturing to do;
– listened to their painful stories when a peer was mean at school;
– suffered in your heart because of your child’s choices, despite giving it your all;
You might just be a hero.
As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly.” And mamas, with our real blood, sweat, and tears, we are most definitely in the arena!
I know I will never be a hero like Hercules. I may never slay the great Goliath and win the accolades of others. But I know that I’ve stood on the front lines of Love, and it has made all the difference.