Let’s do more to encourage motherhood Print
Written by Mary Uhler   
Thursday, May. 07, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

As we look forward to celebrating Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 10, it is an opportunity to reflect on motherhood.

Motherhood is something we take for granted. After all, we wouldn’t be here if our mothers didn’t give us life. Yet, motherhood is not a given in society today, especially in our country.

In 2012, I wrote in my “Editor’s View” column that the number of births in the United States had been dropping. Is that trend continuing?

Yes, it is! In checking on statistics for births, I found that our country continues to experience a decline in births. The last statistics I found cover the number of births for the 12-month period ending in June of 2013. That number was 3,932,181, down from the count of 3,952,841 in 2012. This continues the decline in the number of births from the all-time high of 4,316,233 in 2007.

Why there are fewer births

In 2012, I wrote about some of the reasons why there were fewer births. I think these factors are still true today.

The old saying is that “love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage.” I think we could add that marriage goes together with children.

However, the number of marriages in our country is also decreasing. And although some children are born outside marriage, there are fewer children being born. When there are fewer marriages, there are simply fewer children.

In the Catholic Church, the number of marriages being celebrated has dropped nearly 60 percent since 1972, reported an article in Our Sunday Visitor. This article also noted increases in the number of Catholics who are divorced, separated, or widowed.

Marriage and family life are the basis of a strong, healthy society. Husbands and wives become fathers and mothers, thus continuing to increase the human race.

Encouraging marriage and family life

So what can we do to reverse these trends? Within our own personal lives, we can encourage family members to develop permanent commitments to relationships within the sacrament of marriage and welcoming children. This begins early in life through our own example. Many of us can point to the relationships of our own mothers and fathers as role models.

I think businesses could also be more considerate of marriage and family life. Offering family care  and maternity leave can encourage this.

As individuals and society as a whole, we should offer support and encouragement to pregnant women and their families. Crisis pregnancy centers, like the Women’s Care Center in Madison, are wonderful ways to connect mothers-to-be with community resources.

Pregnancy Helpline, Catholic Charities, Care Net, Elizabeth House, St. Vincent de Paul, the Catholic Multicultural Center, and many other church and community organizations help pregnant women get the help they need.

This Mother’s Day, I encourage people to consider giving a gift in the name of their own mother to one or more of these organizations.

We must also work to make sure our governmental safety nets remain in place to help pregnant women, parents, and children who need help.

Pray to our Blessed Mother

During this month dedicated to our Blessed Mother, let us pray that more people realize the importance of marriage and family life. Here is one suggested prayer to Mary on Mother’s Day:

Mary, on this day when we honor all mothers, we turn to you. We thank the Lord whom you serve for the great gift of motherhood. Never has it been known that anyone who sought your intercession was left unaided by grace. Dear Mother, thank you for your “Yes” to the invitation of the angel which brought heaven to earth and changed human history. You opened yourself to God’s word and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.

Dear mother, intercede for all of our mothers. Ask your Divine Son to give them the grace of surrendered love so that they could join with you in giving their own “Fiat.” May they find daily strength to say “yes” to the call to the sacrificial love — the very heart of the vocation of motherhood. May their love and witness be a source of great inspiration for all of us called to follow your Son.