The Hidden Life Of Motherhood And Our Faith

by Faith & Life, Family

 I would say that going to art galleries and contemplating a piece of art isn’t something people do very often these days. Honestly, it’s not something I do often either, but this painting has been a staple in our living room the past six months, and it has slowly been stirring something in my heart. 

  Old Cottage at Pinners, 1895, Helen Allingham

The painting highlights a home hidden in the country with a mother and her two children leaving their home through the gate. In many ways, the home represents the hidden life of a mother raising her family–being alone in the country with the overgrowth of flourishing greenery and flowers.  

The Daily Life Of A Mother

The daily life of a mother is not something seen or valued in the world today. Being a housewife or homemaker is not something that brings quantifiable results, so to the world it’s not viewed as important or worthy to be recognized. C.S. Lewis speaks about the importance of motherhood:

“But it is the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, mines, cars, government, etc. exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their homes?… We wage war in order to have peace, we work in order to have leisure, we produce food in order to eat it. So your job is the one for which all others exist.”

C.S. Lewis, letter to Mrs. Johnson

Even with this reality of necessity of mothers, living it out can even be difficult for us as mothers to see results or progress in. How many times a day do I reorganize my son’s toys so they are in order when he wants to play with them again? Or how many times a week do I have to rewash and put away his diapers? It seems as though progress never happens. But how similar is that to our own journey of holiness? We conquer one sin to just be reminded of another fault of ours and it can feel like we never progress. Somedays, in both these situations, I just want to give up. It sounds like an easier option most days but we were not meant to give up when faced with failure. It is actually the daily failures and trying again that makes us holy, makes us saints.  

This dance of holiness, like the painting, is encapsulated by beauty, and like the day to day life of a mother, our interior life with the Lord is hidden.  The beauty of the yard and home in this painting did not just pop up like this: it took lots of trial and error, lots of hard work, lots of failing and getting back up.  All of that failure is what brought about the beauty we see when we look at this painting and I think this is what our interior lives start to look like as we become more holy–perfection and marvelous, breathing-taking beauty.

Even if the world discredits the life of a mother and it’s absent of recognition, there is something about this painting that draws you in and as a woman, reminds you of the beauty we are called to. The way in which the home is hidden in beautiful vines and flowers and trees shows how the home is protected by the mother. The mother’s role is to protect her home and her children from the world of utilitarianism, to create a safe space for beauty to flourish. This painting represents the safeguarding of the home. If this is done right, the children will be ready to go out into the world and not be swayed by it. And again, if we live our interior life well, we too will not be tainted by the world around us but will bring beauty into it.  

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