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Making the most of your “hidden years” as a mother

baby, mom, beach

Yan Krukov | Pexels

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 06/25/22

Let's make the most of this season in our lives -- it can be much more fruitful than we think.

I couldn’t resist a wistful sigh when I saw my friend’s Instagram photo.

She and I had started out on the same path years ago, studying similar things in school and sharing many common interests. 

But now, she was jetting around the world, attending fabulous events, meeting influential people, and posting glamorous photos of her travels and adventures.

Meanwhile, I was at home rocking my baby, as I’ve been doing with one baby after another for the past nine years. 

Usually, I don’t let such things get me down. I know that raising a family is what God is calling me to do in this season of my life.

I know that all my sacrifices for my children will be worth it

I know that the hard, holy work of caring for my family is deeply important and meaningful.

And I love spending my days with my sweet babies.

But at that moment, I couldn’t help feeling a little envious.

“Why does she get to go out and do this cool, exciting, public work while I’m hidden here in the heart of my home, hardly going anywhere at all?” I thought with a burst of self-pity.

I took that question to prayer, and I received an answer that completely changed the way I thought about this season of my life.

“These are your hidden years.”

Slowly I realized what that meant.

Years ago, in theology class, I’d learned about the mystery of Jesus’ “hidden years.” We know very little about most of Christ’s life: The first 30 years of his life are almost totally undocumented, except the very beginning and the incident when he was lost for three days at age 12. 

Theologians call these Christ’s “hidden years,” and there’s something profound about His decision to spend so much of His short time on earth hidden away in the heart of his family home. Msgr. Charles Pope beautifully explains,

In these hidden years, the Lord shows us the beauty of our own hidden and ordinary lives. He teaches of the dignity of family life and of labor. Living in a small and humble village, engaging in labor and living among family, the Lord sanctifies these things and commends them to us as important and essential.

As I thought about this, I began to see the connection. As a mother hidden in the heart of my home, I have a privileged opportunity to use these years to give glory to God.

Instead of spending my time feeling frustrated and resentful about the limitations of this temporary season, I can seek to imitate the joyful love Christ gave his family during his hidden years. 

I also realized that mothers of little ones aren’t the only ones who feel “hidden.”

Perhaps you are a caretaker to an elderly relative, or you live in an isolated place, or you are knee-deep in a grueling season of your profession. For so many reasons, we may find ourselves in “hidden years.”

So as I continue in this season, I feel called to live these hidden years well, to make the most of this time at home. 

I recently asked a priest how to seek rest when I’m in a deeply sacrificial season, and he said, “Whenever you have a moment of quiet, even if it’s just while cooking dinner or folding laundry, let your heart rest in God’s love for you.”

I want to let my heart rest at peace with God’s will for me right now, instead of feeling envious of people called to different things.

And I can’t forget that Christ’s hidden years were a time of preparation for his later public ministry. This season may not be followed with a phase of public work, but these years are also, and more importantly, a preparation for the next life in Heaven.

So today I’m trying to rest in God’s love instead of making comparisons. If you’re also in your own “hidden years,” let’s do this together: Let’s try to live this time well, and make the most of this time we are given. 

Catholic LifestyleMotherhoodParenting
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