MaryBeth Eberhard contemplates Mary as a role model for mothers as they seek to guide their growing children.
I’ve been reflecting lately on Mary’s role as mother. Specifically on her role as mother during the preaching years of Jesus and after His ascension into heaven, as her mothering years did not stop. Indeed, perhaps these were her mightiest years as she formed the hearts and souls of those set apart to form the Church.
As I hold another late-night vigil in prayer for my growing children, I sit with Mama and ask her how she did it. For I know her mother’s heart was greater than mine, and I know the depths I would go to for my children. I imagine the Apostles reaching out to her as their mother, sharing their hearts. How she must have listened patiently to their worries, feelings of unworthiness, and admissions of taking the wrong road. How she must have held their hand, wiped their tears, prayed with and for them and then watched them walk away unsure of if her words helped but holding each one so tenderly upon her heart. Her role of advocate to her Son was being honed in these mothering moments.
Mary’s fiat was more than just a proclamation of the moment. Rather, it became her mission statement and she lived it out. We, as mothers, can proclaim the same boldness to our children in confidence that those seeds are watered.
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my Spirit rejoices in God my savior for he has looked with kindness on my lowliness.” (Luke 1 46-56.)
As a mother, I recognize my inability and my unworthiness most acutely in the sacred moments when the doors of my children’s hearts are opened to me and their desire to believe and trust is so acute. When mistakes are made, or discussions begin, faith is brought into the discussion. I feel unworthy and ill prepared more often than not. In the past, I have suggested, “Perhaps you can read Augustine” or “It sounds like Aquinas is right up your alley.”
Tonight, after such a talk, I was awestruck by the realization that is me that they need. Just like Mama Mary was commissioned, so am I. And I am enough. These children of mine have grown up with the witness of a rich faith life. They have been surrounded by the stories of the saints, a home filled with prayer and laughter, a marriage that is deep and abiding and a door that is revolving with those witnessing to Christ’s love manifest in their lives.
As I reached to text a friend during this recent conversation, thinking “Maybe he or she will have the answers,” I felt a tug to pause and realized the answers are not to be given but rather to be sought out. As these conversations get deeper and my children get older, my job is to listen, nurture, water, and pray unceasingly. The Lord will place the right people in His time to bring clarity. I am not abandoning ship to teaching the faith at all, but rather am molding myself more acutely to the Blessed Mother’s Heart, where a life lived out in witness will speak volumes more than heated arguments or long drawn-out discussions. My children know I am always open to their questions and rich conversations do take place, but always in God’s timing.
As the blessed Mother, dear Mama Mary, got older, I imagine her role as intercessor became fine-tuned. I see her talking constantly to her Son in prayer, reaching out, sharing, pleading, and asking for guidance herself as she herself always models a suppleness to the Holy Spirit. It is why I turn to her so often as my guide. My words whispered from my heart. Mama Mary, calm my voice. Steady my words. Let my words speak love and invite a relationship rather than an argument.
It’s amazing the multi-tasking that we can do while in these moments with our children. I am constantly calling upon every saint and angel to make supple our hearts for whatever Jesus has planned for these moments. Tonight, Mama Mary sits with me and as the last child has walked off to bed and the clock strikes hours past the new day, we sit and we hold hands in the quiet, she and I. We pray for our sons and our daughters together. Our hearts swell with love and with pain for the trials they are enduring. We lift them together to the Father and release them to His fatherly care. He knows them. He sees them right where they are and He is working in their lives even when they and we cannot feel it.
Hearts embraced together, Mama and I pray blessings and leadership upon my husband as he will pick up the pieces of this discussion in the morning, after reading my late-night text giving him the details of the conversation. (We mothers are always advocating to the Father!)
I know I am not alone in this struggle to give the conversion of my children’s hearts over to the Lord. I know every mother desires for her children to be in a relationship with Jesus for if they know Him, they will love Him and if they love Him… well then how can they not serve Him? St. Thérèse of Lisieux said, “The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the heart of a mother.” Let us take our mother’s hearts, united with our dear Mother Mary’s, and claim our worthiness to have the hard talks, to wipe the tears, to proclaim the truth and to devote ourselves to prayer for the sanctification of our families.
Copyright 2022 MaryBeth Eberhard
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About the Author
MaryBeth Eberhard spends most of her time laughing as she and her husband parent and school their eight children. She has both a biological son and an adopted daughter who have a rare neuromuscular condition called arthrogryposis and writes frequently about the life experiences of a large family and special needs. Read more of her work at MaryBethEberhard.com.