Last week at the Mass celebrating the assumption of Our Lady, I made another quiet little cry room prayer. I should know better by now, but I am always tempted to doubt that those prayers reach our heavenly Father, as if they can’t quite pass through those mercifully-thick glass windows. With my eyes on the kids and my heart on Mary, I reflected on how close I had felt to Mary growing up, how I often first fled to her with my school-age problems. As I grew a little older, I asked that she help me become closer to her Son. As a good mother would, she gently stepped back a bit in my life so that I could better focus on her glorious Son.
The years have passed and she has helped fan the flame of love for Jesus within me. That previous closeness I’d felt with her, however, had faded considerably, especially after I had had my own children. She slowly had become the impossible standard to live by with regard to my motherhood. And though we strove to pray the rosary together nightly as a family, I still felt distant from her and more than a little jealous—Mary, the perfect woman, wife, and mother. Me, most imperfect troll.
Absurdly, I sometimes was even jealous that God had asked her to be His son’s mother and not me—as if any woman could’ve been picked for the job and the same outcome would’ve been achieved, as if God had given Mary such an abundance of grace that she was “stuck” on perfect mode and almost didn’t have to try hard to do the right thing and love God. Mary had become a robot in my mind; and while I knew that this wasn’t quite right and kept praying the rosary anyway, praise to God for Mary became difficult—couldn’t anyone have been appointed to her spot and, given the kind of grace and protection God had lavished on her, become a suitable Queen of the Universe?
I watched absently as the baby busied herself with finding raisins on the cry room carpet. Delighted by her success, she drifted toward the wastebasket and fell again to her knees to gather up the catch she had found there. The older two sat quietly on the puffy leather couch. I thought of saints who had a deep devotion to Our Lady, like St. Maximilian Kolbe, and remembering how my own devotion brought such a warmth, strength, and immediacy to my spiritual life (like the presence of any mom does to a situation), my heart again yearned for that connection. And practically, I felt keenly that a better love of my spiritual mother would do wonders in my maternal vocation. I stared at the carpet. The logistics of getting everyone up the communion line, back for the final prayer, and safely in the car afterward pushed these thoughts to the side for a while, though I did briefly wonder later if God would respond to my prayer.
Predictably yet still remarkably, He did. While praying the rosary with my family in the car on the way to a weekend at my parents’ house, I was meditating on the suffering and pressure of Our Lady during the Passion. It was then that a thunderbolt of understanding struck: even in the face of such uncertainty, fear, and perhaps confusion that Our Lady must’ve experienced during that time, she still never sinned. And she hadn’t all the years before that point. Although I’ve understood that in the past, this time it really sat in my soul—Mary never sinned. Immediately after we had finished, I abruptly asked my husband if Mary had ever been tempted to sin.
“Of course,” he said frowning, surely wondering why I’d ask a question with such an obvious answer.
And that was it, simply enough. We had six minutes left until we reached my parents’ house, and I let the implications of my husband’s response roll over me as the undulating farm fields whirred past our windows. Mary, over the course of her lifetime, had experienced a million different temptations and opportunities to do evil, and she never did. Having an extraordinary clarity of mind to have always known right from wrong and having possessed a completely unwavering will to choose the good, Our Lady never sinned. And suddenly the glory and grandeur and heavenly honors of her queenship made perfect sense—of course our Father in heaven who’s never outdone in generosity would so handsomely reward such a dedicated, life-long love. Being made Queen of the Universe seemed very appropriate for a lady who never once complained, never once chose herself instead of God, and never once—like my husband pointed out—simply sat down at the end of the day and didn’t finish her chores because she didn’t feel like it. This was not a robot—this was the mightiest woman ever to have lived. And she is my mom.
As we came over the last hill, my parents’ house appeared in the distance and the children cheered. I considered God’s immense love for me and desire to protect me in not simply just honoring Mary but in giving her to me as my mother. With great excitement, I wondered just what God wonders God could work through this mighty lady if I truly gave my children to her—through consecrating them to her immaculate heart, by praying frequently for her protection over them, through our nightly rosaries. I saw my prayers not simply as a means of improving myself as mother, but improving my children’s well-being by putting them squarely in our most perfect mother’s lap. Relieved that I didn’t have to be the perfect mom for my children because they already had one and also emboldened to aim again for virtue with Our Lady’s very real help, we pulled into my parents’ driveway. Peace and joy and warmth flowed over my soul as I watched my oldest brother run from the house to greet us. I was home.