Editor’s Note: I am thrilled to present to you Lisa Stack’s inaugural article on Marian Mothering. Lisa will write a monthly column on this topic. Welcome Lisa!
I’m Lisa, Catholic mom to a beautiful daughter and a son on the way! On a monthly basis, I will share with you on CAPC my practice of mothering in Mary’s image. This is a method that has evolved (and continues to do so) over time with great reflection on my role as a mother, and how this role enhances my faith.
This is not a guide to parenting; it is a journey to further understanding our role as ‘Mom’ and how we can deepen our connection with Christ, through Mary. While it may initially appear complicated, it is simply a two-step practice of taking each challenge or joyous event and applying the following two questions:
- How did (or would) Mary approach a similar moment with Christ?
- How does my appreciation for Mary as a fellow mother, further my understanding and love for Christ?
In light of this month’s Table Topic, I will explain a brief example of this practice using my personal struggle in recognizing Clare’s independence, while yearning for her to stay my sweet baby forever.
Over the past few months, Clare has taken great steps to learn what it means to care for herself. She prefers to wash her own hair, brush her own teeth, select her own clothes, and even dress herself. She hasn’t exactly mastered these tasks yet, and I find myself wanting to jump in and help – but I don’t. I take the challenging road of waiting patiently, until she asks me for help. I hate to see her get frustrated when she just can’t get her foot into the right pant leg, but I know that she has to do it herself. She desperately wants to do it herself, and I respect her process.
Initially, I found myself experiencing grief over her increasing independence. I knew that it would come eventually, but I didn’t understand how challenging it would be for me to watch her grow and change so quickly. As my heart ached, I looked to Mary for an example of strength. She, too, had to let her child grow and change. She had to let Him venture out into a world alone, where not everyone would love Him. I imagined her wanting to keep Him close and safe, knowing that others would not understand His mission.
Although Mary may have wanted to keep Christ for herself, like I want to keep Clare, she let Him go. I drew from her strength, and her unconditional love. I also appreciated Christ in a new light. I saw Him through the eyes of a mother, not just as one of the many He sacrificed His life for. Suddenly, the thought of letting Christ go out into a world where many would reject and persecute Him became far more painful, and my love for Him grew.
Imagine, for a moment, watching your child struggling to put their own pants on, while knowing that they were the son or daughter of God? What strength and love Mary must have had to not just pick Him up and hide somewhere to keep Him safe. What faith she must have had in God, to trust in His plan, even when it caused such great pain.
Although there is a great difference between Christ’s great sacrifice, and Clare’s morning ritual, I have come to a greater understanding of both Mary’s strength and Christ’s great mission. When I find myself feeling grief over Clare’s independence, I remind myself of Mary’s strength, and the importance of respecting a child’s mission – even if it is, for the moment, conquering purple leggings.