Danielle Heckenkamp ponders how the vocation of motherhood resembles that of a gardener.
Motherhood is more than a job: it is a vocation. For if it was a job, mothers would receive a day off. As tiring as this may seem, the lack of a day off is evidentiary proof of the vocation’s greatness. When I was in college, a well-seasoned mother of eight children informed me that mothers never receive a day off. She said the worries don’t disappear as the children grow older; rather, the worries intensify and the lack of assisting each child with their daily struggles is heart-wrenching for a mother. I did not quite understand these words as an unmarried college student who was discerning a vocation to a Franciscan religious order. Yet, 20 years later, those words still sit upon my heart as I guide, raise, and watch my children grow into young adults.
Sometimes, motherhood feels like a whirlwind as we struggle through each day appeasing the little ones or teaching and guiding the older ones. It can appear as a daunting task that we are completely unprepared to embrace, let alone come out the victor by attaining the goals of rearing our children towards sainthood. We feel unprepared, but are we? Are we going to assume that God has left us to fend for ourselves in this Divine vocation and that He has not given us the tools necessary to achieve success? It is in our human nature to assume we are lost or unprepared for motherhood. Yet, each one of us has been offered graces and experiences that led us to this beautiful vocation.
My oldest just turned 13 years old a few months ago, and that day, as celebratory as it was, held on like a dark cloud. It left me questioning if I had fulfilled my duties and obligations as a mother to her thus far. It left me questioning my ability to successfully raise our five young boys who will also one day approach the teen years. And then I stopped those thoughts. I stopped looking too far in the future. For only God knows the future, and He does not leave us to fend through an overcrowded garden of vice and virtue without assistance. Our lives may sometimes resemble that overcrowded garden with so many weeds to pull, so many branches to be pruned, so much fruit to be picked, but through the brush and overcrowded weeds, God shows us the path towards our salvation. He trims back the brush and cuts a path for us to travel—it isn’t necessarily a clean path without sticks, thorns, and prickly weeds, but it is our path toward sainthood.
As a young wife, 15 years ago, I did not know how much motherhood would change me. How this vocation would encourage a level of personal and spiritual growth. C.S. Lewis said it best, “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.” The days of mothering small ones can seem monotonous, and we dream of the days when they will be more independent. Then when the children are older, we miss those days of their dependency. I suppose that is the cycle of life and an example of our unrest. Ultimately, our unrest upon this earth signals our desire to rest in God.
The only way to clear the paths of our personal gardens of motherhood is to rely upon God and His graces. Yet each of these gardens is different. There are no two mothers who are alike, just as there are no two souls alike. We are all given specific traits and gifts to assist with the souls entrusted to our care by God.
The advice from well-seasoned mothers can be extremely fruitful, but remember that each one of our families are different. There are no two mothers who are alike, just as there are no two gardens alike. Both are given similar traits, but are composed and created slightly different for the benefit of those to whom they impact.
Copyright 2022 Danielle Heckenkamp
About the Author
Danielle Heckenkamp is a stay at home mom and freelance writer who lives in Wisconsin with her husband and six children. Danielle writes about her daily experiences as a mom and love for her Catholic Faith. Danielle is the co-author of a nonfiction book about manners and common sense. You can step inside Danielle s daily life on Instagram.