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Motherhood is a vocation

One of the offshoots of the one-child policy implemented in mainland China has been forced abortions, which have left many mothers in deep anguish and despair. While Hong Kong leaves people free to make their own decisions about the size of families, many women choose to remain childless, which has resulted in its low birth rate over the past 20 years.

“It is not easy to be a mum!” is an innermost feeling shared by most mothers today. Before a baby is born, mothers have anxious moments as the foetus grows in the womb and they still have to face the cost and pain of giving birth.

Even the availability of a delivery bed can be a problem. Then, after the birth, a baby needs round the clock care and financial burdens grow. If the baby gets sick, the mother faces both physical and mental stress.

Facing education brings a new set of challenges and adolescence has its own worries. Then there is career choice and after that the hope of marriage and setting up their own family. A mother carries all these worries in her heart.

An old Chinese adage says, “Raising a child to live 100 years will give worries for 99 years.” Nowadays, Hong Kong is faced with additional issues, like working mothers. Then there are single mothers who, apart from their work obligations, have to shoulder the burden of playing the dual role of mother and father.

In 2005, the then-chief secretary, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, advocated that each family should have three children. However, the lack of a comprehensive policy left this initiative in the too hard basket.

In the climate of a laissez-faire society like Hong Kong, having babies and bringing them up can be considered by women as a block to their freedom. A local celebrity once described raising a child as a high-risk, low-return investment of four million dollars. Be this true or not, not wanting children has become a mainstream mentality.

Mothers’ Day tends to commercialise respect and love for mothers rather than celebrating the bonds between a mother and her children, and trivialises the true human dignity of motherhood.

Vatican II and Pope John Paul II repeatedly affirmed the vocation of women, saying that only women have the ability and privilege to extend human life through procreation. Pregnancy is not easy, but the joy of welcoming a new life into the world puts the pain in the shadows.

The love between husband and wife is at its zenith when they see the fruit of their love in the form of a new life. Giving birth to children and raising them is a mission whereby women take part in God’s creation and salvation in a special way, as Mary did.

Her mission to give birth to Jesus, raise and educate him, accompany him to his crucifixion and play her role in his mission of salvation began when she told the angel, “May it be done to me according to your word.”

Hong Kong needs user-friendly policies in the form of medical care, education, social welfare and labour protection to encourage people to bring new children into the world.

In this month of May, as we celebrate Mothers’ Day, let us entrust the protection and nurture of all life to Our Lady of China. SE