I’m 46 years old, and I think I’ve figured out how to be a mother. It’s not bad timing considering that I’ve launched only three out of the home, and my youngest is 10 years old. I still have time to keep trying, and many lessons have been learned.
The other day, dear friends shared they were expecting their first child. With hearts full of excitement and joy, they yearned to soak up knowledge but also seemed a bit overwhelmed. Time was ticking, and they are growing a baby.
I smiled as I listened, my thoughts trailing back to when I was a first-time mom. A comedy could be made of my mistakes but most of all my worries. That pattern of worry followed me well into eight children where comparison and worry truly held me back from being the mother God was calling me to be.
Now I feel healed from that exhausting and heavy cross, embracing mothering with joy and the knowledge that my daily offering is enough and that God’s mercy is abundant. Every day when I fall short of being who God calls me to be, I breathe in the grace God has for me.
Instead of turning to the mothering books, blogs and even well-meaning friends, I turn to Mary, mother of Jesus, to show me how to be the mother I am called to be.
In every word Mary speaks from her fiat to the wedding at Cana, she offers guidance to us her children: “Let it be done to me according to your word.” When we embrace parenting with a fiat response to the gift being giving to us, we allow the Holy Spirit to work within us.
At Guadalupe, when Mary appears to Juan Diego, she speaks words of gentleness and trust, “Am I not here who is your mother?” How beautiful it is to look upon our children and speak those words to our children. Trust me. I’ll always be here. I want the best for you. I am actively working to help you. In speaking Mary’s words to our children, we say all this to our children.
As our children grow, Mary of Knoch shows us how to be a mother through a ministry of presence. Here she speaks no words, but by her presence, brings comfort. So, too, is ours to our children when their hearts are aching. Whether at age 2 weeks or 22 years, being actively present to our children helps us build a relationship in times of need.
There are other examples of Mary giving us courage to step into our motherhood. As our children grow and face more worldly influences and free will sets in, we might feel inhibited to engage in conflict, but Mother Mary appearing at Fatima shows us that we are compelled to speak truth to our children.
Mary shows the children what hell looks like if society continued along the path it was on. So, too, must we as parents model Mary’s forthright nature and stand firm in what we believe.
I’m enthralled with Mary’s apparitions because I know she is teaching me and helping me grow in my motherhood. Our young expecting friends asked me a great question: If I were expecting now, what would I do differently? There is a lot to ponder.
My last little one came 10 years ago. I remember realizing that I carried within me the nourishment the baby needed, and, with a package of diapers and a few onesies, we had everything we needed to cover basic needs.
As a veteran mother, I would purchase less and ponder more, turning to and trusting in Mary to provide me the guidance I need to form the soul of this little child entrusted to me. It is amazing how freeing it is to entrust your parenting to Mary and have her lead you, your spouse and your children to her Son. So, join me in parenting through Mary to Jesus.
This post first appeared at the Catholic Times.
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