Thoughtful. Efficient. Supportive. Wise. Practical. Makes you happy. Beautiful. Energetic. Huggable. Loving. Dependable. Self-sacrificing. Faithful. Taught us what we needed to know. Provider. When I asked several Sisters to describe their own mothers, these were some of the responses. I would certainly use all of them to describe my own mother, and I would add to the list gentle, devoted, kind, flexible, organized, and patient. At least!
The perfect model for motherhood is Mary, the mother of Christ. In her dialogue with the angel Gabriel, Mary claims for herself the single most important virtue a mother can hold – humility – and from which will flow all other virtues a mother needs. “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
Mary is completely open to whatever God’s plan is for her. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t challenges involved. After all, Jesus did stay back in the Temple that one time, which probably gave her a mild heart attack when she couldn’t find him. Simeon’s prophecy and Anna’s words cannot have been too easy for a mother to hear either! Yet Mary pondered in her heart those things that she did not understand, until a future time when truth and understanding would be revealed to her.
I do not hesitate for one moment in ascribing the virtue of humility to my mother, who
devoted her entire life to her family. Her name is Marielle, which is a diminutive French form for Mary. Like Mary, my mother embraced her role as wife and mother and dedicated every fiber of her being to providing a comfortable home and raising children who would become happy, productive adults. It would be difficult for me to list every-thing that my mother did for me, or everything I learned from her over the years. But I can try! My mother taught me to love nature – flowers, animals, and especially birds. She taught me to share with those who are less fortunate than I, to stand up for myself, and that it is easier to catch bees with honey than with vinegar. My mother nursed me through the measles, the chicken pox, the mumps (both sides!), and countless scrapes, bruises, colds, and flu. She taught me to read and write in French (once I had mastered the alphabet and basic English reading skills). She was always there when we arrived from school, and always had hot meals ready for us, even after we joined sports teams and started arriving home later in the evening. She chaperoned all my elementary school outings and was the president of the PTA of my high school. My mother always supported my various endeavors – musicals, concerts, trips, jobs, educational opportunities, or joining a monastery – even when they weren’t her first choice for me.
After my two brothers and I had moved out of the house (basically when we left for University) I asked my mother whether she was lonely. I assumed (oh oh, you know what they say about that word) that after devoting her whole life to her family, that she would be suffering a horrible case of “empty nest” syndrome. Imagine my surprise when she said that though the house was a bit empty, no, not really, it just meant she had done her job right, and now it was time for her and dad to do their own thing! Shortly after the house was sold and they were in a smaller condo!
When we are children, we adore our mothers. At some point during our teenage years, we are embarrassed by our mothers. As young adults, we are surprised and at times embarrassed when we are caught speaking or acting like our mothers. As we get a bit older, we start to find this amusing, a little “dotty” on our part, perhaps. I am at the age now where sounding and acting like my mother is an honor, because I finally fully realize the wisdom contained in the woman who spent all her life making me who I am, and who continues to do so.
Thanks Mom, I love you!