(Parts of this post blatantly stolen from the wisdom of the oft quoted (by me) P. Miron–friend, defender of the faith, and all around stand up guy!)
I am someone’s Momma. It took a long LONG time for me to acheive Mommahood, and it is my very VERY favorite part of being the Faithful Scribbler! I love being a Momma…but it doesn’t really come that easily for me.
By nature, I am NOT a patient person. I come from a long line of impatient yellers. Yelling is my instinct– it’s how I was raised, it’s what I know, and it happens before I realize it has happened. I work very VERY hard to conceal this about myself from the general public, because it is NOT an attractive quality.
You can’t yell at kids and expect them to learn anything except frustration. And you REALLY can’t yell at kids on the autism spectrum because, well….they yell back. LOUDER. Or, in Little Scribblers case, she hits herself– HARD. Over and over. Usually in the head. Get the picture? Displaying anger just simply can not happen. Displaying disapproval or displeasure is one thing– but loss of temper or outright anger illicits a very disturbing response in my child. Seeing her response to yelling has actually made me step back and really REALLY appreciate what an ugly UGLY quality it is, and how damaging it is for kids. Oh yeah, and it doesnt change their behavior at all either– it may startle them into temporarily ceasing whatever annoying/naughty activity they are currently engaged in, but I assure you that is a temporary state, and annoying/naughty activities will resume again shortly! Add to the mix how guilty I feel when I’ve lost my temper!
We got a lot to feel guilty for, us Mommas! Many of us are the parent primarily responsible for the daily health, well being, religious upbringing, educational decisions, potty training, veggie coaxing, socializing avalanche that is child-rearing! The dads help too– but hopefully the dads are employed, and if they are, chances are good they are gone about 9 hours every day. Since the typical toddler is only awake 12 hours a day anyway, Mom shoulders much of the responsiblity for planning and implementation of all these things. And very often…we get it wrong! And getting it wrong, making mistakes with your child, often brings with it a crushing sense of guilt and failure!
Guilt and failure is everywhere! Everytime you turn around theres another expert publishing another book about how we gave our kids autism by having them vaccinated against polio. Or telling us that Johnny is too fat because he was put on formula instead of breastmilk, and didnt we know that chubby kids never succeed at anything and have a higher suicide rate, and what exactly did we think we were doing when we purchased that Similac anyway?! And oh by the way, Alexis can’t read yet?! And she’s already THREE AND A HALF!? Dont you know that anybody who is anybody learned to read when they were TWO and a half?! Alexis is already an entire YEAR behind academically! Harvard is going to really have to reconsider her application…
It’s easy to get caught up in all the craziness of books and internet forums and competitive mothers in the playgroup, and feel like a failure. It’s easy to lose your way– mothering requires constant re-evaluation of whether or not you are meeting target goals that you’ve set for yourself and your kid(s). The Nickelodeon channel (yeah, I’m that mom who lets her kid watch TV instead of drilling her with flashcards– so sue me!) has a website, which boasts a tagline of “Hey. We’re not perfect. We’re parents!” (www.parentsconnect.nickjr.com).
We’re not perfect. I am not a perfect mother– nothing I do is going to make me a perfect mother. But I do KNOW a perfect mother– and example of motherhood to be the lighthouse which guides me along the rockier coastlines I’m sure I’ll encounter in the next 15 years or so. Any guesses? No? Anybody? Bueller?
The Blessed Mother Mary of course!
(note– here comes the part I stole from Pat!)
“Mary manifests the presence and action of the Holy trinity, especially that of the Holy Spirit. She is the masterpiece and dwelling place of Father, Son and Spirit. Thus, she is called Seat of Wisdom (read CCC 721-726)”
I never thought about it before– but Mary is sort of the manifestation of all parts of the trinity. God the Father created her perfectly, and commanded her. The Holy Spirit moved her to perfect obedience. Jesus the Son of Man was born of her flesh. She is quite literally a meeting place for The Holy Trinity! A walking, talking, breathing, MOTHERING meeting place of the Holy Trinity!
She mothered Jesus from the very beginning. She taught Jesus to walk and talk. So often we think of the divinity of Jesus that we lose sight of His humanity– Jesus was humble. A humble child who needed to learn from his Momma how to walk, talk, eat, etc. Mary’s job of mothering Christ didn’t end with His birth– it wasn’t as if he emerged from the womb as a man ready for ministry! No– Jesus was once a child. A child who needed to be taught, by the example of His mother, how to perform basic physical tasks such as feeding and dressing, and also, what the rules of polite Jewish society were!
When I think that at one time, Jesus was a three year old. He was doing exactly what my Little Scribbler is doing right now (minus the 10 zillion Dora the Explorer episodes…)–learning to use utensils, learning to dress Himself, learning the rules of Temple (Church)– I find myself pondering what His mother was doing. How was she teaching Him? I’d bet my right arm she wasn’t losing her temper as much as I am! I’d bet my left arm she was tolerant of childish mistakes and impulses.
Mary is the perfect example of motherhood– she “mothered” God Himself! He created Mary to mother His son– who after all, was an equal part of Himself! (as the theological idea of the Holy Trinity tells us). He filled Mary with the Holy Spirit from her very conception, to help her along the way! And so I challenge all the moms out there to look to the Blessed Mother Mary as the needle pointing north on their Mothering Compass.
Are you mothering your children in the way that Mary mothered Jesus? As long as you’re striving for that model, I don’t think the rest of it matters very much. Susie will eat broccoli someday– she might be 56 years old when it finally happens, but you can only control so much! Alexis will go on to graduate highschool and likely attend college even if shes SIX when she finally learns to read. We have Mary’s perfect example of mother hood right there before us! When we lose our way, we should turn towards Mary and ask how she might have mothered, and go with that! After all, God created her specifically to be the vessel and mother of Jesus, who is, after all, also God!