Attentive Love

May 14, 2010

This morning, like so many mornings when I am a mother, my plans changed.  My plan this morning was to drive to Atlanta to meet a good friend for coffee; instead, I took both of my kiddos to the doctor after a few days of runny noses and restless nights.  While I know doctor duty is part of my job of being a mom, I was a little bummed to miss out on the rare moment of adult conversation over coffee with my friend. 

When I got home, I read the below piece from Richard Rohr’s daily meditation that comes to my inbox. 

“Sara Ruddick in her book Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace speaks of the attentive love of a mother. In summary, Ruddick says mothers are characterized by attentive love. They have to keep watching this new life; they have to keep listening and adjusting to the needs of the child. It is necessary to recognize a new agenda with the growth of the child. If the mother cannot transform herself into attentive love, she quite simply cannot be a mother. She has to learn early on that life is about change, not about theological absolutes. All growth is about changing and adjusting to what is needed at this moment by this child. The mother cannot run to abstract truths. She has to deal with this child, these tears, and this present moment with this child.”

How often has my “agenda” changed because of what Brady or Abby needed in the present moment- a little extra rocking before nap-time or bed-time, a hug to calm fears or a fall, or a little extra attention to quiet an energetic child.  Flexibility is part of the routine of being a mom.  There are so many days that I can roll easily with the changes that loving a child requires of me.  There are days, though, that I become frazzled because what my child needs at that moment means putting something else on hold momentarily, no matter how important it feels. 

I have so much to learn about being fully attentive not only to my children but to anyone I am blessed to share a brief moment of my life with.

Attentive love requires us to remain in the present moment and adapt to what is in front of us: How well do we do this? 

Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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