Last weekend, I attended the first annual Mothering with Grace conference, reminding me of how much I used to enjoy attending the MWG meetings.
I got to be there from the very beginnings, as my friend Jessica felt moved by the Holy Ghost to gather mothers together to try to parent with more of God's grace. I used to drive the long 45 minutes to her home for these monthly meetings, which were so energizing and centering.
Then spending the entire mornings away became too much for me when I had two toddlers and was pregnant with #3. Those early years are so hard that having my toddlers nap in the car on the way home meant that they wouldn't nap at home and I needed a nap or I couldn't function! So, I took a break from meetings for a while until a location in the South opened up! We met at night at that point, which worked for me for a while. But my nighttime parenting habits are such that my babies and toddlers depend on me to be there at home--there are pros and cons to this. One undisputed con is that, I really can't go out at night till my toddlers are nightweaned. So, finally after a few years, I felt I couldn't go to MWG meetings anymore and found myself attending only its biannual Mothers' Night Out.
Well, guess what I learned last weekend at the conference? Now there are a good handful of locations and meeting times for MWG! The one nearest my home, just several miles down the road, was just recently moved to a time on a Saturday at 7:30 in the morning, which is perfect for me and my family! The larger the family, the more necessary it is for Mama sometimes to step away to recharge and the more difficult her absence becomes because her job is highly specialized, and it's hard for Daddy to hold down the fort without her. Absenting myself so early in the morning works well for us.
Therefore, Saturday morning I found myself at the MWG meeting praying, reading Scripture, meditating on its mysteries, reading about the saints, and talking about discussion points with other mothers who are, each of us, trying to parent with more of God's grace.
I have permission from the leader to share the handouts from this month's meeting below, as my hope is to encourage local mothers who read my blog to avail yourself of this wonderful support network.
The meetings open with prayer, and such beautiful, well-selected prayers they are:
Each month, a different virtue is explored via readings from the Gospel and other sources such as the saints, the Catechism, or contemporary, but holy, writings.
MWG is a Catholic organization, but is open to all mothers desiring to parent with more grace and there have been mothers involved who are not Catholic. There are mothers in regular attendance of various styles and philosophies of parenting. I remember in the wee beginnings of the organization, we mothers were essentially of the same "bent" because we were a close-knit group of friends. But over the years, properly, MWG has sought out and welcomed so many women that there are now mothers of many types:
- married, divorced, or never married,
- homemaking or working,
- with children in school or homeschooled,
- and of various parenting philosophies . . . nobody should feel out of place!
Attendees are sent home with questions for personal meditation to use throughout the month. I always used to like posting my list of questions on my refrigerator to reflect on them here or there during the many hours I spend in the kitchen (AKA "Central Command").
I find the MWG meetings are so refreshing and lift the mothers present to have hope, to desire to achieve greater personal sanctity, to be more Christlike and give more to our families. The MWG meetings have a notable spirit of God, not a spirit of the world.
If any local mother reading this desires to be "filled up" once a month for an hour, I encourage her to check the website for a meeting location near her. There are already a few locations across the country and the world! And, if there is none near you, it is a simple process to apply to become a leader and do one, brief online training live with the founder.
"When you sit down to eat, pray. When you eat bread, do so thanking Him for being so generous to you. If you drink wine, be mindful of Him who has given it to you for your pleasure and as a relief in sickness. When you dress, thank Him for His kindness in providing you with clothes. When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars, throw yourself at God’s feet and adore Him who in His wisdom has arranged things in this way. Similarly, when the sun goes down and when it rises, when you are asleep or awake, give thanks to God, who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know, love and praise their Creator."
— St. Basil the Great