Feeling the pressure to be ‘Super Mom’?

Lecture to help moms renew the source of their strength

In the course of a day, a mother can deal with family logistics that include a spouse, home, job, finances, car, meals, education, activities, sports, play dates, volunteering, homework, making sure everyone gets enough sleep, and add to that in a Christian family: that children are growing in their spiritual lives.

“Women operate at a frenetic pace trying to keep up with all the pressures,” according to Lisa Lickona, S.T.L. “And when they can’t, they feel inadequate, guilty, depressed; and give up and check out. It’s daunting.”

What is it to be a mother today? Why is it so hard to live out this vocation? And where does God fit in?

Lickona will address these questions, in her experience as a theologian, wife and mother of eight, in the next installment of the Archbishop’s Lecture Series Oct. 7 in her talk titled “Love At the Heart of the Family: Motherhood in the New Millennium.”

“In all the things we manage and take care of: where is God in all that?” she said in a phone conversation with the Denver Catholic Register Sept. 18 from her home in the rural community of McGraw in upstate New York.

“People don’t think of the world as something that God is intimately involved with,” she said. “That he’s ‘way out there,’ or we happen to see him when we pray; if we pray.”

But when God’s not involved in the particulars, she said, a mother can begin to feel “it’s all up to me.”

“The truth is we’re not alone, we’re not abandoned,” she said. “Love entered the world in the person of Jesus Christ. … We have the Church, we have the sacraments.”

Mothers need to encounter love to build themselves up on the inside.

“There has to be something deeper I’m drawing from,” Lickona said, referring to a deeper sense of a relationship with Christ. “Faith has to become a person. It has to be a journey with Christ every day.”

Lickona holds a licentiate in sacred theology and a master’s of theological studies from the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C. She is co-author of the pastoral resource “Adult Children of Divorce: Recovering Origins, Following the Path of ‘Our Father;'” many articles on family, marriage, parenting, culture and the writings of St. John Paul II; and currently writes daily meditations on saints for Magnificat, while raising her children—from age 2 to 20—with her husband Mark. The couple also lost one child due to complications with prematurity and Down syndrome in 2010 at just 3 months old.

In her talk, Lickona will offer practical, realistic ways to help mothers—and those who support them—to cultivate spiritual “anchors” in the daily life, including: prayer, Mass, confession, and simple moments of quiet time to be open to the Lord’s presence.

“It’s very easy as moms to keep giving, giving, giving,” she said, “that we don’t give ourselves time to be with Lord … the source of all our strength.”

Her talk continues this year’s lecture theme focusing on family while the Church also focuses on the family in 2014-2015 (see related story here). The next lecture in the series will discuss cultivating family life with a missionary spirit.

Lickona will speak at 7 p.m. in Bonfil Halls on the campus of the St. John Paul II Center in south Denver. The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, email info@archden.org or call 303-715-3230.

COMING UP: Care for Her Act: A common-sense approach to caring for women and their babies

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The pro-life community is often accused of only being pro-birth; however, a congressman from Nebraska is seeking to not only bring more visibility to the countless organizations which provide care for women experiencing crisis pregnancies through birth and beyond, but to also imitate that care at the federal level and enshrine it into law.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R), who serves the first congressional district in Nebraska, is expected to introduce the Care for Her Act to Congress soon, a bill that’s been in the works since last year. The overall goal of the bill is to “[commit] to care for that journey of life through a complementary set of services whereby the government makes a decided choice on behalf of the life of the unborn child and meeting the needs of the expectant mother,” Rep. Fortenberry told the Denver Catholic.

The Care For Act seeks to accomplish this through four basic provisions: A $3,600 tax credit for unborn children which would apply retroactively after the child is born, in addition to the existing tax credit for children; a comprehensive assessment and cataloguing of the programs and resources that are available to expectant mothers; providing federal grants to advance maternal housing, job training mentorships and other educational opportunities for expectant mothers; and lastly, offering financial incentives to communities that improve maternal and child health outcomes.

The Biden Administration recently indicated that they’ll be removing the Hyde Amendment in next year’s budget, which has historically been in place to prohibit pubic funds from going to abortions. The Care for Her Act would circumvent this to some degree, and it would also test whether Rep. Fortenberry’s dissenting colleagues who have in the past expressed that women should be cared for throughout their pregnancies and beyond are willing to stand by their words.

While the conversation around pregnancy and women’s health often centers around abortion, Rep. Fortenberry intentionally crafted the Care for Her Act to not be against abortion, per se, but rather for women and their babies.

“Abortion has caused such a deep wound in the soul of America,” Rep. Fortenberry said. “However, the flip side of this is not only what we are against, because it is so harmful, but what are we for? So many wonderful people throughout this country carry the burden of trying to be with women in that vulnerable moment where there is an unexpected pregnancy and show them the gift of what is possible for that child and for that woman. Let’s do that with government policy as well.”

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R) of Nebraska is expected to introduce the Care for Her Act to Congress soon, a bill which seeks to provide a community of care for women facing an unexpected pregnancy. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives)

Even The Washington Post has taken notice of the Care for Her Act. Earlier this year, Rep. Fortenberry introduced the idea to his constituents, and as to be expected, he received mixed feedback. Those who are pro-life were supportive of the idea, while those who support abortions were more apprehensive. Still others shared consternation about what the government ought to or ought not to do, expressing concern about what the Care for Her Act seeks to do.

“My response is, if we’re going to spend money, what is the most important thing? And in my mind, this is it,” Rep. Fortenberry said.

However, he was very encouraged by one response in particular, which for him really illustrates why this bill is so important and needed.

“One woman wrote me and said, ‘Jeff, I had an abortion when I was young. But if I had this complement of services and commitment of community around me, I would have made another decision,'” Rep. Fortenberry recalled. “And I said ‘yes.’ That’s why we are doing this. For her.”

So far, Rep. Fortenberry has been able to usher support from a number of women representatives on his side of the aisle. He is hopeful, though, that support could come from all sides of the political spectrum.

“Is it possible this could be bipartisan? I would certainly hope so, because it should transcend a political divide,” he explained. “We, of course, stand against abortion because it is so detrimental to women and obviously the unborn child. At the same time though, I think that others could join us who maybe don’t have the fullness of our perspective, who want to see the government actually make a choice on behalf of protecting that unborn life.”

Amidst the politically polarizing discussions about pregnancy and unborn life, the Care for Her act is a common-sense approach to caring for women and their babies. It offers women facing an unexpected pregnancy the chance to experience hope in a seemingly hopeless situation and make a life-giving decision for both herself and her child.

“I’m excited by this,” Rep. Fortenberry said. “I think it opens a whole new set of imaginative possibilities for America, a transformative ideal that again makes this moment of vulnerability when there is an unexpected pregnancy, our chance, our commitment as a community of care.”