2020 was a year marked by sickness, death, unrest, isolation, and economic difficulty — a year that has challenged the faith of many.
And so, one might ask: What good could come out of a year like this one?
So, for our final issue of 2020, Angelus invited a lineup of writers — some regular contributors, others guests — to reflect on how they've seen God's providence at work in their own lives during this difficult year. Their reflections will be published on AngelusNews.com from Dec. 21-24.
I gave birth on All Saints’ Day, 2019, to our firstborn. I remember that my biggest worry on the way to the hospital that day had nothing to do with labor, delivery, or recovery. It had to do with my fear of transitioning to motherhood without the support of my family and friends.
Since I had recently relocated to a new city where my husband was pursuing his graduate degree, there were approximately 500 miles between me and my loved ones. And because of illness, my mother was unable to assist with the transition after we brought the baby home. I was terrified of having to figure out everything on my own.
Little did I know that three months later, I would be joined by a company of women who were giving birth in isolation — away from mothers, grandmothers, neighbors, and support systems — many of whom had to deliver their children without their husbands by their side. New moms and seasoned moms would be bringing children into a world that looked utterly different than it did when they were expecting.
Mothers are having a tough time keeping their heads above water in this pandemic. Whether they work inside or outside of the home, moms statistically take on the majority of child care and household duties. They’re hardwired for relationships and meeting needs. The moms I know are finding the circus act of balancing laundry, meal preparation, children’s Zoom classes, and professional deadlines to be dizzying.
But the hardest part for all of us has been going it alone, without the ability to commiserate, trade life hacks, or share wisdom with one another. Women need to talk to other women. Every Jane Austen novel attests to this reality.
Absent a parish moms’ group or the opportunity to be with family, I’ve turned to conversing with the saints. As I navigated my first year of motherhood in isolation, I began to talk to Our Lady, asking her about what it was like to spend her first year of motherhood with only Jesus and St. Joseph, in circumstances marked by instability and fear.
I’ve asked St. Monica for help with patience, St. Jane Frances de Chantal for practical wisdom, and St. Gianna Beretta Molla for help when my son has been ill.
What I’ve learned from each of them is that meeting needs may at times feel like a burden, but it is ultimately a blessing. To be needed is to have a purpose. Motherhood, by its design, is communal. It is the ultimate antidote to loneliness and isolation.
Hearing a crying baby at 5 a.m. does not immediately usher in these thoughts. But those waves of consolation do come when I am rocking him quietly in his room as the sun comes up, praying for the other mothers around the world doing the same thing.
When my son was born on All Saints’ Day, I was moved by the fact that he would have any number of them to invoke for support. Little did I know that I would have a communion of friends to lean on, too.
If you have a personal story or experience in which you have seen God’s provide at work in this difficult year, email us at [email protected]. Submissions will be evaluated and published as part of an ongoing series on our website.