“A Resting Place”
by Anita DiGregory
We all have our heroes, our role models, those who inspire us, and those who we aspire to imitate. Ever since I was a little girl, I had a special love for Mary. As the Blessed Mother, she was my heavenly mother; I confided in her, telling her my scariest fears, hopes, and dreams.
As I have grown older, my love and admiration for her have only grown. I still confide in her, asking her to whisper my prayers to her Son. But now that I am a mother myself, she has become to me the Model of Motherhood. Think about it; she has experienced it all!
Newly pregnant, she traveled (probably on foot) to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, where she stayed to help care for her, support her, and eventually assist her in the care of her newborn baby. Later, when she was in her ninth month of pregnancy, she accompanied her husband, traveling far from home to a foreign land where her husband would have to beg for shelter. As if that was not enough, she then gave birth in a manger. She swaddled her baby, loved Him, and protected Him. A brand new mother, Mary held her Son in her loving arms, and she became his resting place.
What a mom! But it does not stop there. She had to relocate to a new home with her family. She suffered terribly when her young child was lost and could not be found for days. She had compassion for a young bride and groom who ran out of wine at their wedding feast, and she interceded for them to her Son.
She must have suffered silently when her Son grew older and traveled far from home, spreading a message that often earned him many enemies. And, I imagine after long trips away, he would return to her and receive her motherly love and care, and even then, she would become his resting place. Eventually, Mary witnessed her Son being bullied and tortured mercilessly. Helplessly, she watched him suffer a long, agonizing death. And after, they placed his lifeless body in her arms, where she again became his resting place.
These days, I find more and more that she is my resting place as well. She gets it; she’s been there. And with her I can (almost) exhale.
Let’s face it: this motherhood thing is super hard. Logically, you would think it would get easier as they get older. Maybe in some respects it does. But honestly, for me, as my children have gotten older and their struggles and challenges have gotten tougher, this motherly load has gotten a lot heavier. My mother-in-law was visiting recently and randomly remarked of her own experience, “As a mother, you never stop worrying…no matter how old they get” (and her oldest is 57).
Don’t get me wrong; it isn’t all doom and gloom. There are MOMents of unimaginable joy, celebrating in their happiness, successes, and triumphs! Recently, I had the absolute blessing of becoming a grandmother for the first time! The delight of watching my baby become a father is indescribable, not to mention the joy of meeting, holding, and loving my new grandchild. She is the most beautiful blessing!
But before she was born, I witnessed her mom suffer tremendously for months with terrible “morning sickness” morning, noon, and middle of the night. As my daughter-in-law suffered a long, hard pregnancy, she provided for this beautiful baby a safe resting place. After days in labor, with hours of pushing, their precious baby arrived. And when she was born, the hospital staff (who were all amazing) laid that sweet little one on her mom, skin-to-skin, where this newborn found her safe resting place.
I guess that demonstrates the exhilarating, exhausting rollercoaster ride that is motherhood: the sadness and tears, the worries and anxiety, the utter joy and celebration. This is the undeniable part of being a mother: to be a mother is to be a cheerleader, intercessor, consoler, crier, worrier, celebrator, confident, and resting place. (This is why, even at my advanced age, I still feel better when talking with my mom!)
Personally, this rollercoaster ride has been quite intense these past few months, lots of changes. As I try to prepare physically and emotionally for another little one leaving the nest, I must say it has been rough. Today, at Mass, she laid her head on my shoulder, just like she had done when she was little…and I soaked in the joy of that MOMent…and again being her resting place.