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Motherhood's Greatest Luxury

Like a shower, God's mercy cleanses and refreshes us

By Mary Pereira

"Hi, my name is Mary, and I'm a mom who is pulled in a million directions.” Or, more simply put, “I’m a mom.”

That mom who, like so many of you, can never get everyone out the door on time for Mass, wears yesterday’s eyeliner and calls it good, says ‘yeah right’ when she sees paper-towel commercials of moms smiling as they clean up their child’s gooey mess and applies the classic U2 lyrics to her children on a daily basis: “I can’t live with or without you.” If you can relate to this image, then I’m pretty sure you will agree that the term “mom time” is an oxymoron. If you are a mom, you do not have time – even when you are sitting still. When you are not busy with your hands, you are busy with your mind; and when you are not busy with your mind, then you are busy with your heart. Busy, busy, BUSY! I’ll admit, the word “time” sometimes even makes me angry!

Alas, there is one time, the only time, when you are alone and free from all of the craziness around you. It is in the shower. Showering, at least for me, quickly became motherhood’s greatest luxury. And I mean luxury, defined by Merriam-Webster as: something that is helpful or welcome and that is not usually or always available. I quickly noticed after the birth of our first child not only how “helpful and welcome” my shower was, but also that it was “not always available.” In fact, I think that dear child was practically in the bathroom doorway as I nervously showered and continuously peeked around the curtain to make sure she was OK.

With the birth of our next two children (within 2.5 years), I should have been taking faster showers because I was more busy, right? Wrong. I not only found my showers becoming more precious, but longer. I fought for that time, I made that time. Before we run out of hot water, I’ll get to my point, which is the connection between showers, time, motherhood and mercy. The four basic elements of showering – stripping, naked, water and clean – will prove useful.

Stripping. Most of us don’t think twice about stripping before our shower. It is with this same confidence that we need to draw near to Jesus, the fountain of mercy. If he made us, if he searches us and knows us, (Psalm 139) then what do we have to hide from God before jumping in his shower of mercy? In a homily the day he announced the Jubilee of Mercy, our Holy Father preached about the sinful woman who sees Jesus' compassion and approaches him. “Love and forgiveness are simultaneous: God forgives her many sins … for ‘she loved much’ … and she adores Jesus because she feels that in Him there is mercy and not condemnation.”

Naked. Thanks to Adam and Eve, being naked has often become not only shameful, but horribly disfigured in our society, and sins involving nakedness often bring the biggest sense of shame. Those spiritual wounds seem to remain open no matter how many times we try to cover them up. However, Jesus became man, and took on our nakedness. His body was full of open wounds after he was scourged, and then reopened when he was stripped of his garments. This is graphic, and this is mercy. In order to receive God’s mercy, we must be willing to open up and stand naked before our Savior.

Water. The more stripped and naked we are before God, the more fully we will experience his mercy. It takes time to calm down, to reflect, to examine our conscience and to actually seek the sacrament of reconciliation. Therefore, we need to seek out and make time for mercy just like we do for that precious shower, and let the cleansing waters of forgiveness soothe and heal us. This is the beauty of showering, and this is the beauty of mercy. It never gets old, and it never runs out. Jesus waits for us with open arms. Moms, let’s run to mercy and make it our favorite luxury!

Mary Pereira is a married mother of two girls and a boy, ages 4, 2, and 6 months. She is the assistant to the director of pastoral services for the Diocese of Grand Rapids.