Monday, November 3, 2014

The womanly art of being a nag

Probably one of the most devastating things I've heard in the course of this whole Brittany Maynard situation came from the lips of her mother. "It’s not my job to tell her how to live, and it’s not my job to tell her how to die."

Well, actually, that's precisely what a mother's job is. Mothers should tell their children how to live. I thought that was common knowledge, but in the words of Chesterton, "Common knowledge is not so common" anymore.

She goes on to say, "It's my job to love her through it." Yes. That is a statement with which I can agree. Brittany's mom was correct in saying that a mother's job is to love her child through the pain, through the confusion, through the fear, through the darkness.

The problem is that these two sentiments were allowed to coexist in a rational mind. A mother cannot simultaneously love her child through the pain and allow her to endanger her immortal soul through an act of usurping the decision that is God's alone. Mothers who know the value of a healthy soul would walk through hot coals to prevent their children from eternally separating themselves from God.

I know this because my mother did this for me. In a time in my life that was filled with confusion and doubt, my mother became a horrible nag. She would call me constantly to check up on me, she scheduled people to meet with me, and she prayed like a mad woman that I would repent. It annoyed me that she was telling me how to live, that she wasn't trusting my baby adult brain. Many of those decisions I ended up making during that time were a direct result of trying to get her off my back. Thank God she annoyed me. Thank God she was a nag.

I suspect that St. Monica was also a nag. I'm sure that it frustrated Augustine to have this "crazy" lady showing up in places and weeping over his soul. He recalled his gratefulness that she had never given up on him in his Confessions:
"For almost nine years passed, in which I wallowed 'in the mire of the deep' and in the darkness of error, and although I often strove to rise out of it, I was all the more grievously thrust down again. But all the while, that chaste, devout, and sober widow, one such as those you love, already livelier in hope, but no less assiduous in weeping and mourning, ceased not in all her hours of prayer to lament over me before you."
A mother's number one job is getting her children to heaven. Concern for the soul may not ever be trumped by concern for the body. Care for the soul demands that we scrutinize decisions that are made out of fear or in the midst of suffering. On a natural level, mothers have been trained to do this by the pains of birth and the emotional demands of motherhood. But training must not be limited to merely natural realms.

We are in the midst of a spiritual battle. We mothers need to arm ourselves with prayer and sacrifice. We need to make frequent use of the sacraments, and we need to be prepared to be seen as nags, definitely by the culture, but perhaps even by our own children.

Sometimes the only thing standing in the way of eternal darkness is the nagging of a good mother.

St. Monica, pray for us.