A MOTHER’S REFLECTION ON THE ANNUNCIATION

Praying the Rosary, I have often focused on Jesus’ life more than on the other players in the scene. Recently, I felt a tug in prayer to look specifically at the ways the joys, fears, and realities of motherhood are played out through the Mysteries and the ways I could apply Mary’s responses specifically to my own motherhood. Whether this article is a one-off or a series, only the Holy Spirit knows.

Deciding we were ready to have children wasn’t momentous. We had been married for a few months and felt like, “Why not?” We knew we wanted to be parents sooner rather than later, God willing, and were blessed with a positive pregnancy test fairly quickly.

But as soon as I saw that little plus sign, my life was changed. Although the little person who would one day become my daughter was just a little poppyseed nestling into my uterus, motherhood was officially upon me. The wonderings, the questions, the worries flooded in. Will this be a safe and healthy pregnancy for me and my baby? What do I need to put on my registry? Am I getting adequate nutrition? How does one “swaddle”?

Each looming milestone—the heartbeat, the anatomy scan, the baby shower, the birth—brought a sense of relief and also a new flood of fears. She was delivered safely, but was she getting enough milk? I made it past fears of SIDS, but now childhood drowning or antibiotic-resistant bacteria had me scrolling Google late at night. 

At the Annunciation, Mary asks the angel, “How shall this be?” as she seeks clarity and understanding. Like us, she was not without her questions about the future. (Unlike us, however, she had no parenting influencers to offer conflicting information on everything from tongue ties to slicing grapes.) Would she remain married to Joseph? How will she explain her good news to those she is closest with? What will be asked of her as the Mother of God? But what Mary did better than I do was turn those worries over to the Lord in total trust in His plan.

Mary said yes to motherhood and all the joys and sufferings that would inevitably come. While we know the story for her and how it would end, we have to remember that she did not have most of the details when she accepted the angel’s request. When we, too, are given the choice to embrace motherhood and the particular child God has given us—whether through biological parenthood, adoption, fostering, or spiritual motherhood—our yes means we accept all of it, the highs and the lows. We may experience early pregnancy loss, unbearable suffering during pregnancy, the death of a child, a kid who experiences physical or mental health issues, a teenager who may one day turn away from the Church. When we choose to love those kids, our hearts will be broken at their expense. By God’s grace, Mary knew her life would be richly blessed but immensely challenging because of the New Life she was accepting, but she didn’t know in which ways. The same goes for us, too.

When I might worry whether others judge the number or spacing of my children, I can ask Mary to remind me that God has a plan for each of these particular kiddos, just like He did for His own Son. As I pray for a safe delivery or worry about the host of childhood illnesses or accidents that could befall us, I can ask Our Lady to point me to her Son. My child and I will suffer (even Jesus and His Mother were not spared), but I can trust that that suffering will bring about good for us and for others. 

All we can do with the information we have in front of us—that God has given us this little person—is say yes. Yes to trusting that God knows what will challenge us in motherhood to grow in holiness and in a greater love for him. Yes to believing that whatever role this child will play in the world, for however short or long he or she will be on this earth, will work for good. Yes to believing that God has a unique plan for each of the children He puts in our lives, a plan that we cannot control as much as we might want to. Yes that God wants our happiness more than we do, in ways that might not be clear on this side of Heaven.

As we wrestle with accepting God’s plan for us and our kids, present or future, let us look to Mary, a woman like us who was given unimaginable grace to be the mother to the particular child God gave to her. We can take the worries, fears, and sufferings of motherhood that will inevitably come our way and offer them to the Lord, asking Him to replace those fears with trust in His plan. And if our hearts are heavy with pain or anxiety and we have no words, we can always repeat Mary’s: “I am the handmaid of the lord; let it be done to me according to your word.” If you need a point of focus as you begin the Joyful Mystery of the Annunciation, here is a brief prayer: Lord, help me to trust You in all areas of my life, especially in my motherhood, and be confident in Your plan for my family and my children. Help me to say yes to the beauties and the sufferings of motherhood, whatever may come, and be assured of Your love for all of us. Amen.

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At the National Eucharistic Congress, Decided Excellence Catholic Media - with the help of Bishop William Waltersheid - will be presenting "Beautiful Revelation: The Eucharistic Timeline". Throughout human history, God has left repeated proof of His presence in the Eucharist and that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Salvation. God has given us the wisdom. Have you taken the time to understand? Read this spiritual journey through time to examine critical moments that God uses to reveal the truth of the Body of Christ.

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