I remember the somewhat off-handed and slightly dejected comment. "And then there's me...just a mom." A few other women were talking about some of the pursuits they were undertaking - nursing school, doula work, tutoring, blogging. They were all good things, all things they had discerned and were doing while also being mothers but all things that were an extra calling. My heart sank a little at those words, especially coming from a beautiful woman who gave of herself constantly in all sorts of ways to her children and community. Because that voice that speaks to us, undermining the importance of being "just a mom," and discourages us from thinking we're enough? It's a liar.
Let's take a look at what some of the saints, wise thinkers, and leaders of the Church have had to say about being a mom...
"Part of this daily heroism is also the silent but effective and eloquent witness of all those "brave mothers who devote themselves to their own family without reserve, who suffer in giving birth to their children and who are ready to make any effort, to face any sacrifice, in order to pass on to them the best of themselves." In living out their mission "these heroic women do not always find support in the world around them. On the contrary, the cultural models frequently promoted and broadcast by the media do not encourage motherhood. In the name of progress and modernity the values of fidelity, chastity, sacrifice, to which a host of Christian wives and mothers have borne and continue to bear outstanding witness, are presented as obsolete...We thank you, heroic mothers, for your invincible love! We thank you for your intrepid trust in God and in his love. We thank you for the sacrifice of your life."
Saint John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae
“The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the heart of a mother.”
Saint Therese of Lisieux "Although both of them together are parents of their child, the woman’s motherhood constitutes a special ‘part’ in this shared parenthood, and the most demanding part.Parenthood – even though it belongs to both – is realized much more fully in the woman, especially in the prenatal period. It is the woman who ‘pays’ directly for this shared generation, which literally absorbs the energies of her body and soul. It is therefore necessary that the man be fully aware that in their shared program of parenthood he owes a special debt to the woman.” Saint John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem "To be a mother is a great treasure. Mothers, in their unconditional and sacrificial love for their children, are the antidote to individualism; they are the greatest enemies against war." Pope Francis "Thank you, women who are mothers! You have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail. This experience makes you become God's own smile upon the newborn child, the one who guides your child's first steps, who helps it to grow, and who is the anchor as the child makes its way along the journey of life." Saint John Paul II, Letter to Women “The way you help heal the world is that you start with your own family.” Saint Teresa of Calcutta "The history of every human being passes through the threshold of a woman's motherhood." Saint John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem
"We need not delay to remind you how important and now necessary is this work of education in the home, and how grave a mother's obligation not to neglect it or perform it with indifference. Speaking as We are to Our beloved daughters of Catholic Action We can have no doubt that they regard this obligation as the first of their duties as Christian mothers, and as a task in which none can fully take their place." Venerable Pius XII "What a majestic figure is that of the mother in the home as she fulfills her destiny at the cradle side, the nurse and teacher of her little ones! Hers is truly a task full of labor, and We should be tempted to deem her unequal to it were it not for the grace of God which is ever at hand to enlighten, direct, and sustain her in her daily anxieties and toil."
Venerable Pius XII
"A married woman must, when called upon, quit her devotions to God at the altar, to find Him in her household affairs." Saint Frances of Rome "Look at the mothers who truly love their children: how many sacrifices they make for them. They are ready for everything, even to give their own blood so that their babies grow up good, healthy, and strong." Saint Gianna Molla “Whatever you do for your family, your children, your husband, your wife, you do for God. All we do, our prayers, our work, our suffering, is for Jesus.” Saint Teresa of Calcutta "The most important person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any cathedral—a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby’s body. The angels have not been blessed with such a grace. They cannot share in God’s creative miracle to bring new saints to Heaven. Only a human mother can. Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other creature; God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of creation. . . What on God’s good earth is more glorious than this; to be a mother?” Joszef Cardinal Mindszenty
"I think I can understand that feeling about a housewife’s work being like that of Sisyphus (who was the stone rolling gentleman). But it is surely in reality the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, miners, cars, government etc exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes?...So your job is the one for which all others exist."
C. S. Lewis "There is no greater refutation of communism in the world than a mother.” Venerable Fulton Sheen
"That special power of loving that belongs to a woman is seen most clearly when sbe becomes a mother. Motherhood is the gift of God to women. How grateful we must be to God for this wonderful gif that brings such joy to the whole world, women and men alike ! Yet we can destroy this gift of motherhood, especially by the evil of abortion, but also by thinking that other things like jobs or positions are more important than loving, than giving oneself to others. No job, no plans, no possessions, no idea of "freedom" can take the place of love. So anything that destroys God's gift of motherhood destroys His most precious gift to women - the ability to love as a woman."
Saint Teresa of Calcutta
"How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness."
G. K. Chesterton
How's that for being "just" a mom?
So, here's the thing: There IS no such thing as "just a mom." Every mother is also first and foremost a beloved daughter of God and a woman created in His image and likeness. She is also usually wife, daughter, sister, manager, and the facilitator of a million other things each and every day within her family. But there is absolutely NOTHING wrong or less than with being (what is deemed) "just a mom." As a mother you have one of the most important roles on earth, far more important than any ministry, side job, speaking gig, social media presence, hobby, or anything else. God might call some women to take on other roles but that's His prerogative and another way that the feminine genius can be revealed. But in no way do those "extras" make another mother more worthy or more woman than the mom who is at home raising her family and devoting herself to making a home. It's okay and beautiful and good to be content with that and embrace it.
Remember, the most influential and significant woman who ever lived was "just" a mom.
She had no degree. No job. No side hustle. No institutional education. She had no remarkable achievements. No earthly awards. No lengthy resume.
She never wrote a book but thousands have been written about her. She never recorded an album but hundreds of songs are dedicated to her. She never owned a piece of land but has cities, states, and capitals named for her.
Her greatest acclaim is that she said yes. She opened her womb and she became a mom, one whom God Himself would honor, obey, and submit to.
With her, let's remember that the most influential work we mothers do will always be within the hearts, minds, souls, and bodies of our children and within the walls of our home. Despite how difficult, unrewarding, exhausting, and sometimes maligned it is, it is beautiful, good, holy, and the most important work. Whether you are a mother with callings outside the home or are devoted full time in the home to motherhood, don't ever, ever forget that. This work resonates for generations and is the most eternally significant for us and for our children. No one can replace you as mother and there's no "just" anything about that.