Growing up it was a rare occasion for my mom to pull me in for an embrace. She wasn’t one to readily give kisses or show any sort of affection. It was normal for us; what we knew. We weren’t deprived of affection. My dad made up for it with his warm bear hugs and good night kisses. It wasn’t ‘never’ with mom, just infrequent. And when that moment took place, it was like getting your best gift on Christmas morning. She would tickle us until we nearly made a mess of ourselves laughing so hard. It was the best.
There was never a doubt of my mother’s love. She showed it in the expertise of juggling four children; dinner on the table at 6pm every day, keenly on point with our doctors’ appointments, after school activities and hobbies, always ready with what we needed and an ear to listen to our daily woes.
One unfortunate day when I was a freshman in college, I found myself in an intense personal battle – learning how to speak up for myself and fight to be heard. It was my mom who drove the four hours to be by my side, and one night as we lay in the twin beds in my dorm room, my mother confided her dark secret of childhood abuse. It wasn’t until that tender moment that I realized I barely knew who my mom was, what experiences had molded her past shaping the woman she was and the mother I had come to know. It took a good decade to unpack the full history of my mom’s past, but with each stone taken away I began to understand the nuances of her character, from the lack of affection to the zeal for service. Now as an adult I know to offer the hug and my mom readily accepts. She may not think to give it, but she has no problem receiving it. In learning to know my mom, I have come to respect her as a person – her struggles and her triumphs. I realize one day my own children may learn more about me and unbeknownst to me, come to their own realizations and understanding of my inadequacies, and hopefully strengths, as their mother.
I often relate this to my journey in coming to know my Blessed Mother as well. I grew up learning the Hail Mary and the Rosary. I recited dutifully because this was Jesus’ mom, and she wanted to take our prayers to her son. But I didn’t know Mary. And because of my relationship with my mom, I saw her as I saw my mom. A mother that would listen and take care of me but was set apart. She was in heaven, and I was just another child on earth.
As my personal journey to healing began, my spirituality blossomed. Realizations of my own life were making the world a bit clearer, and I realized there was so much more to know about Jesus and His mother. I didn’t want to just pray the rosary because I had been told. I wanted to pray it knowing who was listening and how she would receive me and my prayers. As I became a mother, I took on a better understanding of my own mother and the Blessed Mother. The love for our children is insurmountable, and you want to do anything you can for them, as well as deny them anything that is not healthy or safe. When the movie The Passion came out it put into a visual for me this mother’s love and the pain that comes with this love and I knew her in my heart.
I feel the Blessed Mother with me always, especially in my greatest time of need. She covers me in her cloak, and I feel a warmth of protection, safety, and a knowing I will be okay.
This Mother’s Day take a moment to show up for your mom. Ask her something about herself you never thought to ask before. It may change the dynamic of your relationship. Say a Hail Mary before and it will certainly bless you.