Mary Woodard

In Her Shoes: An Endow Host in London 

From the Editor: Thinking about starting your own Endow group? Click here for our special Fall promotion! Starting August 1 and ending August 30, 2019.

On Wednesdays, I descend deep into the bowels of the London Tube line, and travel Northwards. On Thursdays, I get in my car and drive South - away from the frenetic pace of Central London, where it’s actually possible to get in a car and move forward in it faster than if you were walking. I am heading off to facilitate ENDOW groups.

My Wednesday group is an interesting mix of both first time moms, bleary eyed with sleep deprivation, and stunned by the seismic shifts in their lives; and women at the tail end of their childbearing and rearing years, with married children or children off to university. We have been working through the Letter to Women Study, and it has been beautiful to see its impact on all the women in the group.

The first time moms really cling on to the message that emphasises the value and worth of motherhood and its minutiae. They can struggle realising the substance of what they are doing. In a society that quantifies everything and places a dollar value on it, the immense tasks of coping with a cluster feeding baby, or comforting an emotional toddler can seem almost pointless from the perspective of the outside world, especially since it is so hard to describe and measure. How do you adequately answer “What did you today?” when you have fed and diapered a baby on repeat for the past ten hours? These women are visibly reassured and inflated with new life when faced with the true dignity and importance of the work they are doing.

The more experienced mothers seem to benefit from two things. First, there is the reminder that what they have devoted the majority of their lives to - being wives and mothers - has been the greatest gift they could give to society and the world: that their care and devotion and self sacrifice over decades is beyond measure and reverberating through time like ripples in a pond. And then there is the knowledge that motherhood is not confined to caring for the needs of children in their homes, but can also extend to the spiritual motherhood of those around them. Their homes might be emptying out quickly, but there is direction and purpose for their innate desire to make room for and take on the care of the hearts, minds, and bodies of those around them. Their call to spiritual motherhood has immediate and effective outlet in the ENDOW group itself, as they give perspective and encouragement to the new mothers next to them.

My Thursday group is absolutely different in character. It is louder, busier, and more boisterous. The group consists of a few new mothers, but many of them are mothers of larger than average families. These are women neck deep in the wideness of motherhood and family life. They might be dealing with the needs of a newborn, as well as the complexities of their teenagers. Or, they might have had a few babies in quick succession and be dealing with NFP struggles and worries. They might have had hard and heavy losses, be suffering from secondary infertility, or just maxed out beyond anything they could have imagined. Some of them are also surprised by joy: they had never imagined they would be mothers of many, or that such a thing would bring them so much joy. 

In this Thursday group, we have worked our way through the Letter to Women, and are almost through the Humanae Vitae Study. The fruits have been beautiful to see. I have witnessed everything from the renewed energy and dignity they have walked away with when reminded of their value as women and mothers; to the acceptance of their fertility as a gift to be worked with, instead of suppressed.

We live in a world which devalues the feminine and the unique perspective and gifts that come along with that. So, for me, the thing that unites both groups, as different as they are in character, is that all the women have walked away happy to be women, and proud of being mothers. This is a beautiful thing to observe: women joyfully and intentionally inhabiting the magnificence with which they have been created, and living out their vocations in their fullness. 

From the Editor: Thinking about starting your own Endow group? Click here for our special Fall promotion! Starting August 1 and ending August 30, 2019.