One of my young-mom friends on Facebook posted that she was feeling “a lot of things” as she carefully packed away her first baby’s preemie clothes. I totally understood where she was coming from. I’ve had that mixed garble of feelings many times over the past two decades. That feeling is so familiar to me that I can ward it off before it strikes. It’s sorrow.
Just like a sore throat or the start of a headache, the pangs of a sorrow can be recognized and avoided, usually with a diversion that comes quickly in a busy household, or with a song on my phone, or a quick prayer. I think most experienced moms have their favorite remedies for side-stepping this familiar malady.
In Her infinite wisdom, the Church has designated September to be the month of the Sorrowful Mother. Maybe it’s because this is the month that marks the end of the simple joys of summer for the rigors and excitement of a new school year. It’s a small loss to bear, but the end of swimming and vacations and just hanging out together is a sorrow nonetheless. It also brings with it another school year where perhaps as moms we notice that the kids need us just a little less than the year before. The irony of knowing that I have succeeded as a mother as they become more independent is not lost on me. I once read that the hardest part of being a mother is knowing that the maternal body that was meant to grow, nurture, love and hold, must come to terms with letting go and getting on. It’s a hard passage to make sometimes.
I often think that our Blessed Mother experienced this. We know about the Seven Dolors or Sorrows of Mary, but I am sure she suffered other smaller sorrows as well. It couldn’t have been easy for her as a widow to watch her adult son leave their home in Nazareth to travel and preach. It could not have been easy for her to hear the stories and rumors about him. I’m sure she must have fought doubts about his ministry and its success. Moms throughout time have faced those same sorrows as their children step into adulthood. Mary suffered other losses too – the loss of her parents, the death of her husband, probably the loss of other friends and family members, the loss of her youth and beauty and everything that comes with aging.
Someone who loves much always suffers the scars of loss on their hearts. In that way, I’m sure Mary, as the Sorrowful Mother, shares in our sadness at the losses we experience in this lifetime. As we move into the second half of this month honoring Mary, let’s contemplate her example in accepting her sorrows to find the strength and the wisdom in accepting our own.
Copyright 2017 Elena LaVictoire