As my son prepares to leave home for college in just a few months, I feel a bit lost. Who’s going to be there to say, “It’s late and time to get to bed. Put those things away now. Are you feeling OK?”
The importance of parents—for the spiritual health of children–can never be overstressed. It is parents who instill the first “fear of the Lord!”
When Peter and his sister were little, my husband and I had them convinced that God gave us the power to see them wherever they were! This was a major first step for them in learning self control. Because “what if they know” is the beginning of “I’d better not do that because it is wrong.”
Of course we employed the usual parental tools. We made educated guesses: “You were talking too much in your kindergarten class today, weren’t you?” Or we heard from others: “I’m glad you helped that girl who struggles with reading.” Or we noticed body language: “I’m sorry you had a hard day. Do you want to talk about it?”
These ways of knowing things without being physically present help kids grow. It’s a small glimpse of heaven, really…it is the reassurance that there is someone who is always close by, whether you see them or not, who really cares about you.
For all of Peter’s 18 years and Brigit’s 15 years, these strategies have served us and them. Sure we have missed some cues that might have told us about troubles. But, for the most part, being available and being observant has worked to help them grow in faith.
But now that Peter is going to be really, really far away, it’s time to turn him over into the hands of his Other Mother who is even better at this “All Knowing” than I am. Mary, our Heavenly Mother, has the same concerns about health, safety, faith and virtue, but she sees even more!
Another thing I used to tell the kids was that when they are away from home, they can always look up to the sky and know that I am looking up too. And in the sky we are vividly reminded of Mary, the Queen of Heaven, whose color is blue. In fact, I see her spreading her mantle across the sky. When the sky is clear, then all is well. When the sky is cloudy with darker clouds, we need to pull together and support each other. And when the sky has little cotton ball clouds, then it is time to be creative!!
That was my imagined response to separation. But I firmly believe that Mary–because she knows the hearts of every mother–is trying to communicate with us in many ways, even in the sky. She reads beyond even those subtle ways of knowing—the guesses, the body language and the networking with others. Our heavenly Mother reads souls.
So as our kids go off to camp for the summer, or to a new school in the fall, we can put our trust in their other Mother, because she is our Mother too! And she truly knows and cares about the big picture of what each of us needs!
Copyright 2014, Judith Costello