In a world full of Instagram and Pinterest feeds, mothers all around the world are consistently comparing themselves to each other. This comparison makes them feel as if they are constantly failing in all areas of their lives. No one can compete with the purposely posed family pictures of matching outfits, photo-ready nutritionally balanced meals and perfectly captured pictures of family bonding in their HGTV inspired homes. For some reason, mothers have adopted the idea that this is real life and one should excel in not just one, but all of these areas. For some reason, the real stuff, the important stuff, the only stuff that matters, doesn’t make it to the social media platforms. No one shows the tantrums, the hurt, the failures, the broken hearts that children and parents face, the addictions families go through. We hide behind our perfectly posted lives and portray all things good. This is where the breakdown of community and connection happens and instead walls go up. This is sad because moms need help and need to be able to ask for it, whenever they need it.
Every day, in every household, a mom feels inadequate in some part of her life. We are given these children, these beautiful little lives entrusted to us by God, and with them, comes our biggest responsibility…to get them to Heaven. Our characteristics are passed on to them, so now, we are not only responsible for their souls but making sure ours are a good example to follow. What a big job. Life with little children, as parents know, never goes as planned. Children have plans of their own how the day should go, what they should be doing and most of the time they are different from ours. Raising children is hard and the older the child gets, the more complicated the problems become. The saying goes, “Little kids little problems, big kids big problems”. The older stage is where things become complicated and there’s no other saint that knows this better than St. Monica. She knew to ask for help.
Most families have that one “spirited” child who has their own “big” ideas about life. Her son, Augustine, was St. Monica’s greatest challenge. While she had practically perfected her prayer life through the trials of her abusive husband, Monica probably at one point (or several) felt that she had failed Augustine. While two out of three of her children chose to enter the religious life, Augustine had his own vision. He was sent to Cartage to further his studies and came back with very different views of the spiritual world (believing we all came from a world that consisted of dark and light and when we died we returned to this world of light). Monica, as moms everywhere do, probably wondered where she failed. How could her examples and faith been so lost on this particular child? When children act in a way that is so far from our own particular beliefs, especially in matters of faith, anger can be the response to battle the fear we feel within. St. Monica asked Augustine to leave her table and her home. She wept for her son, and probably at the feeling of personal failure she felt. Legends of her weeping are popular among the faithful and tell stories of her crying nightly for her son. As a mother, it is not uncommon to feel so completely lost, that you’re getting it all wrong and messing it up the whole way through. There’s one piece that most moms are missing though. God gave those kids to YOU, and YOU are what they need, faults and all, but the key is to never stop trying and that’s exactly what St. Monica was reminded of in a vision.
In this vision she was asked to reconcile with her son, to not give up on him. Instead of hiding behind her pride and her feelings of failure at parenting, she learned to ask for help. She prayed every day for her son to turn his life away from inappropriate women, alcohol and addictions. She ultimately gave her son to God but did all she could as well. Through her tears, she prayed to God with all she had and sacrificed as much as she could to the poor as offerings to Heaven. She became friends with St. Ambrose, shared all the not-so-pretty details of her son’s choices and asked for his help. Through this friendship and through God, Augustine was baptized and went on to become one of the most important Fathers of the Church. Did you read that??!! This child, who gave his mom trouble for so many years, who made bad choice after bad choice, became ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT FATHERS OF OUR CHURCH. St. Monica is a real mom, a mom that felt failure, that had a child disappoint her, that questioned her abilities to get this little soul entrusted to her to Heaven. This is a mom we need. Not the ones we “Follow” on Instagram, We need to follow her, her examples and give our kids back to God when we don’t understand their choices. We need to ask for help when we don’t have the answers, we need to break the walls and connect with other moms, priests, family and friends, faults and all. And if all else fails we pray and pray until we can pray no more. The best part is now you can call on St. Monica to pray with you because…well…she get’s it.
Prayer to St. Monica
“Exemplary Mother of the great Saint Augustine
You perseveringly pursued your wayward son
Not with wild threats but
With prayerful cries to Heaven
Intercede for all mothers
In our day so that they
May learn to draw their
Children to God
Teach them how to remain
Close to their children,
Even the prodigal sons and
Daughters who had sadly gone astray
Blog Entry: Sarah Zimmerman