Sometimes being a stay at home mother of a nursing baby or toddler can feel wonderful and rewarding. On other days, you might wonder if what you are doing matters. Yes, it does!
As you know, breast milk is helping to build your child's physical body. Breastfeeding on demand and being sensitive to your baby's needs is contributing to his emotional health and helping him learn to trust. In terms of spirituality, breastfeeding can be thought of as part of Saint Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. The breastfeeding relationship is beautifully described in this way in Sheila Kippley's book, Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood, and in Andrea's personal reflection entitled Feed My Sheep. Also, the book, Parenting with Grace discusses breastfeeding in this context.
When Mother Teresa said, "Do small things with great love," I truly believe she was thinking of mothers and other ministers of ordinary life. You do not need to be on the mission field in another country to be Christ to others and to make a difference. Even St. Therese of Lisieux did her "mission" work from her convent and now she is considered a great Doctor of the Church. Striving to respond as lovingly as possible to your family, friends and neighbors is one way nursing mothers "do small things with great love." By nursing your baby and preparing meals and snacks for your toddler, you are feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty, two of the Corporal Works of Mercy. When you get up in the middle of the night to care for a sick child, you are visiting the sick. By forgiving your children and husband when they hurt your feelings, you are practicing the Spiritual Work of Mercy that says to forgive offenses willingly. Also, being gentle with yourself when you make mistakes is following the second part of the Great Commandment: love your neighbor as YOURSELF. By praying with and for your children, you are praying for the living and dead which is a Spiritual Work of Mercy. As you can see, family life is filled to the brew with ways to "do small things with great love" and ways to live out the Gospel.
But what about the atrocities occurring around the world this day? What can mothers do? By breastfeeding and raising your child(ren) in a loving Catholic home, you are responding to the violence in the world in your own unique way in this season of your life. You are growing compassionate and faith-filled children who will one day be adults out in the world. You, as a mom, matter and are changing the world "one diaper at a time!"