I’ve always had difficulty turning to the Blessed Mother in my time of need. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe she was my spiritual mother. I knew she always accompanied me, always heard my petitions, always took them to the feet and heart of her Son. But I couldn’t get close to her, couldn’t fully trust her. In fact, I always felt some emotional distance between us, undoubtedly from my end. There was no way I could emanate her meekness, gentle nature, humility. Though I longed to be more like her, my temperament was feisty, zealous, prone to voicing my opinion.
In college, I began my journey toward Marian consecration under the tutelage of my biological mother, who carried a strong devotion to Our Lady and wanted to share it with me. At the time, I felt considerably close to my mom; she was my confidante, and we attended daily Mass together, frequented the grocery with little side trips on a weekly basis, and talked about everything in our lives.
Years after Ben and I married and welcomed our first daughter into the family, I noticed my relationship with my mom had become strained. It was subtle at first, something I couldn’t pinpoint but only intuited as our conversations became more terse and fewer words were spoken between us. A sadness veiled me from time to time as I thought of her and the years gone by, but I never thought to turn to Mary instead.
It wasn’t until the Vigil Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception that everything came crashing down. I crumbled into a sobbing mess in our family room after the girls had gone to sleep, pouring my heart out to my husband. It was the umpteenth time that I had asked my mother for help — help she generously offered four years ago after our daughter, Sarah, was born with a rare disease. Yet she did not follow through with the offer. There was always a reason, reasons I tried to rationalize so that I could attempt to understand her. But they were hollow, and I ended up feeling rejected and alone.
The night I cried to Ben, I realized for the first time in over thirty years that my relationship with my earthly mother was not as picturesque as I made it to be in my mind. Her love for me was conditional. And that realization was jarring. At the same time, I wondered, “What will I do now that I need my mom more than ever before? I feel lonely, afraid, isolated as a special needs mom. What will come of this?”
And the answer came as swiftly as the tears subsided: Turn to your heavenly Mother. She has been waiting for you all these years. She longs for you to run into her arms. And she will never fail you. It was a truth I had not considered before, a truth that peacefully lingered in the days subsequent to my mini-meltdown.
I began by praying for detachment from the expectations to which I’d held my mother. I asked that Our Lady would come to my aid and mend my broken heart — the heart that pined for an earthly mother to support me, offer respite from the weariness of our daily life, listen with compassion.
Shortly after I shifted my heart from needing my mom to praying to my Blessed Mother, I noticed a deeper awareness, followed by understanding the reasons why my mom couldn’t be to me the mother I had always needed. At the age of twelve, she had lost her own mother and grew up with an emotionally distant, alcoholic father instead. She didn’t know what a maternal heart truly was, because it was never a gift she was able to cherish herself.
But somehow, things always come full circle. I thought of my own daughters as they nestled in their peaceful slumber. I considered my own shortcomings and realized that the only reasonable solution for us all is this: Mary must become the only mother we truly confide in. Her prayers, her presence can make up for all our miserable mistakes when our mothers fail us and when we, too, fail our own children.
It is God’s grace poured out through her that compensates for our lack. It is a prayer to which we must turn, again and again, when we find ourselves desperate, hurting, lonely, and lost. Today, I understand the depth of my Marian consecration far more than I ever have. Today, I think of Mary’s assistance before I ask my mom for help, and I turn to Our Lady with an emboldened confidence that she will, through her Son, provide for all that I need.
Copyright 2017 Jeannie Ewing