Family Reflections: Mary and the movements of a parent’s life
By Ginny Kubitz Moyer
Many statues of Mary have a similar look: the blue and white robes, the veil, the arms extended outward. This image of her is so ubiquitous that it’s practically part of our Catholic DNA. There’s an undeniable comfort in seeing the same Mary everywhere we turn.
But Mary has more than just one pose and one look. Her life as the mother of God involved a wide range of experiences, from the happy to the harrowing. Since becoming a mom myself, I’ve discovered that there is a Mary to correspond to nearly every moment of a parent’s life.
There’s the Mary of the Annunciation, a surprised, probably scared young woman saying “Yes” to the unknown. That Mary speaks to my own experience of starting a family. While I was thrilled by the positive pregnancy test, I also knew I was saying yes to something that would challenge and stretch me in ways I could not possibly anticipate. Does Mary understand that combination of excitement and trepidation? Absolutely.
There’s Mary on the road to Bethlehem, hunched over on a donkey and searching for shelter for the night. She’s the Mary who had to roll with the punches, who had to adapt quickly in very trying circumstances. I’ve never had to give birth in a barn, thank goodness, but when a canceled flight meant I had to spend the entire night in an airport with a 9-month-old, I learned a lesson in How to Cope When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned. I didn’t handle it with Mary’s aplomb, but I’m learning.
There’s Mary at the Wedding at Cana, nudging her adult son to perform his first public miracle. She’s never seen him do one before, but she knows, with that steely core of certainty that moms have, that he can. Like Mary, parents the world over encourage kids to do things they’ve never done before: walk, use the potty, read, ride a bike without training wheels. We have faith in what they’re capable of doing, and our confidence matters.
There’s Mary standing at the foot of the cross, an excruciatingly painful Mary to contemplate. She’s there for us in the moments when our children are hurting or worse. In the face of this Mary, all I want to do is hunker down and pray: pray for those who have lost children, for the children who are lost, and for an end to all violence that rips at the hearts of mothers and fathers.
Then there’s the Mary we don’t really get to see in the Gospels, the Mary who reaches to hold her resurrected son. What must that meeting have been like? I picture a woman sobbing with joy, almost unable to believe that she’s actually touching her boy once again. Thanks to Easter, any mom or dad who identifies with Mary’s loss of her child can hang onto the promise that we will enjoy a similar reunion someday… and thank God for that.
So as we celebrate Mary during the month of May, remember that we aren’t celebrating a woman who remains frozen in place. We’re honoring a woman who rode the waves of motherhood, learning to bend with the highs and the lows, a woman who reaches to meet us wherever we are.