I find myself feeling guilty the last few years on Mother’s Day. I wake up in the morning, typically sleeping in because my husband got up with Gracey. I enjoy the hand-made gift or the meal that was cooked in the kitchen by my daughter. I am offered to, “go get your nails done” or “go take a nap.’ In both circumstances I feel “mom guilt” that I should be playing with the kids, cleaning diapers, picking up small Barbie shoes or wiping off snotty noses. You can’t step away from motherhood. It is a full-time job, not like “40 hours a week”, but every minute of the day. It is something we find very hard to take a break from because when one child gives you a break, the other is tugging on your dress. My mother exemplifies this role of motherhood. Her phrase is often, “ATM: Any Time Mom.”
At the moment we give birth (or in my mom’s case, adopt) we instantly give up our life for another. Whether we realize it or not, our interests, our needs, our desires, are secondary. This is not a complaint, rather a challenge. I remember my mom telling me the story of my adoption. She had just won a seat on the school board in Rochester, MN. The social worker called my mom saying, “Congratulations, Vicky! You are going to be really busy!” My mother replied, “Oh yes, between work and this new role, I am sure it will be busy, but exciting!” The social worker replied, “No, I mean you are going to be really, really, busy Vicky. I have a child for you and Doug (my dad) to meet.” As soon as possible, my parents and I met for the first time. We all fell in love and just as quickly as a blink of the eye, my mom was willing to sacrifice her life for mine. She surrendered.
She was all in. My mom had an amazing career as a doctor, from residency at Mayo Clinic, to her oncology practice in Peoria, IL. She tirelessly worked for women in crisis. Breast cancer in the 80’s was often a death sentence, but she comforted and educated so that she could provide the best care possible. She assisted in creating the Heartland Clinic in Peoria, IL, which helps disadvantaged in the community receive quality healthcare. She led “Race for the Cure” and advocated in the legislature to have insurance companies cover mammograms. After all this hard work and accomplishment, by the time I entered school she decided to “retire early.” She attended school Masses, helped as a “room-mom,” joined the school board, lead the Girl Scouts Troop, and said “yes” to just about anything she could do to support my brother and I growing up. She modeled Mary, who is the ultimate role model for all of usmother or not. Mary saw it all. When invited, she surrendered.
Mary surrendered to motherhood in a way that is hard to imagine. Her surrender was rooted in God’s will. While she couldn’t know the details to come, she knew the profound, earth-shattering call that was now her responsibility- to nurture, love, support, teach, comfort, the Son of God. Whoa.
While we might think that raising Jesus was filled with peace and joy, it was not without turmoil. Think about the time He was lost as a teen, to her support of His ministry beginning at Cana, and the heartache of holding her battered, lifeless, beloved Son. She saw it all. She surrendered and endured it all with an unshakable faith. She is the perfect role model of a disciple who illuminates light and love. Her love transcends any anxiety, insecurity, or materialism…much like the love we receive from our mothers.
Each one of us is called to radical love. In the spirit of Mary, are we willing to radically surrender and love our brothers and sisters who may differ from us? Are we willing to surrender our will for God’s will?
On this Mother’s Day, I pray that you will know and feel the love that Mary has for you. If your mom is with us today, thank her. If your mom is among the angels, thank her. If you are without a mom, thank the one who nurtures you and supports you in your life, whoever that may be. We should all be grateful for the role Mary plays in our lives— a Mother who is nurturing, loving, supportive, and always a “ATM”- anytime mom!
Katie Price is the Coordinator for Stewardship at the Cathedral and works for the Diocese of Springfield, IL by helping parishes grow in discipleship and stewardship efforts.