Mother of mothers
I’ve always had a complicated relationship with Mary.
It gets less complicated as I get older. Motherhood has made her more real to me. After Dana’s post about the spoons, I wondered if Mary ever ran out of spoons.
A two year old is a two year old is a two year old, right? Plus there’s the business of the missing teenage years.
Part of what I struggled with for so long was my church’s characterization of her as small, meek and sugar coated.
Because I’m not.
I resented the Renaissance depictions of her that hang in churches and museums all over the world, beautiful in form and face even as she grieves at the foot of the Cross.
I wondered, if she is the ultimate example of womanhood and obedience, in all her delicate beauty and grace, then what are the rest of us?
Then I became a mom and I knew the truth.
She was a lot like the rest of us.
She labored and gave birth.
She felt mama fear, as we all do. Probably more, after meeting Simeon in the temple and then being forced to flee in front of the slaughter of the innocents.
She felt mama anger, too. The bible tells us that she searched wildly for her son for three days when he was lost. And when she found him in the temple, she spoke up to him, in front of the men surrounding him.
The strongest word I could find to describe her tone is “questioning”.
Yeah, I bet. She probably wanted to question him all the way home and into his room until he was 30.
Which would explain the missing years. Huh.
She was Immaculately Conceived, gave birth to the Son of God and lived a sinless life (hey, I said she was a lot like us, not just like us), which makes her the Mother of mothers. She walked our path and then some. She gets it.
That’s what matters—not how she is depicted in a painting from 700 years ago.
When I descended into the darkness after Annie was born, and my counselor told me that meditation would quiet the loud and ugly voices in my head, I turned to the rosary.
For Catholics, the rosary is meditation. It’s also closely connected to Mary, and I needed the Mother of mothers badly at that time in my life. On the nights when the fears were chasing me, I let the beads slip through my fingers, begging Mary to pray with me for peace in my heart and thoughts, to add her voice to mine and ask God for healing.
I never made it all the way through before falling asleep. But when I awoke in the morning, my rosary curled up in bed with me, I felt peace and knew that Mary was with me in my struggle.
My friend Steffani is the one who brought me closer to this understanding of Mary. She’s a homeschooling mom with eight kids, and her family is a great big joyful bundle of noise and love. In the midst of this, she is a very calm and wise woman. I used to think this was because she’d seen it all. But then I realized it’s because she gives it all to God. And she asks the Mother of mothers on a daily basis to pray for her and her family.
So I started praying the rosary beyond bedtime, looking for support and wisdom. I do feel that those moments of quiet reflection bring me closer to God, help me clear out the distractions and listen for the answers to questions and prayers.
A few weeks ago, my 36 year old rosary broke. I knew right away what I wanted to do. I had a rosary handmade for my godson Owen, out of his birthstone, for his First Communion last year. I got it from ClaresGift (Agnus Dei Creations) on Etsy.
I went back to the same shop and asked Ellyn if she could make me a mother’s rosary out of my birthstone and the birthstones of my kids. But of course. It arrived on Saturday:
I love it.
I love what it represents, a powerful way to pray for my babies.
I love that it connects me to the Mother of mothers, who is ever ready to pray for me and with me in support and love.
I love that it brings me closer to God, and creates a quiet space where I can ask, honor and listen.
It’s another way to remember I am never alone.
I’ll bet Ellyn can make any kind of custom rosary—mother’s, grandmother’s, dad’s, godmother’s, First Communion, Confirmation, Wedding, Quincineara, etc. Or she has a standard collection of Catholic and Anglican rosaries at https://www.etsy.com/shop/claresgift.