On this particularly trying day, I stare down at the sink piled high with a second round of dirty dishes. It’s barely noon. I look out the kitchen window feeling the bleak realities of our household’s financial state after making the decision to stay home full-time with the children. I fight just to try and keep up, the exhaustion making my throat close in tight. Standing, but faint at heart, I let the silent tears fall into the soapy water. I overhear short people decimating the living room and attempt to let myself go invisible for a moment in the kitchen.
I know the overarching call, the plan. I am a mother. I am a wife. As a leader, I want to get all the details gloriously right, like a light-up-the-sky firework display of dynamic success.
Why do I feel strangely lonely, though I am rarely alone? Why do I feel fraught with busy-ness, yet fight the feeling of being adrift? Are the efforts adding up? Are they ever seen? I stare out at a bird’s nest high in the trees outside my kitchen window and wrestle for my sense of worth in my own nest. The days this week feel relentless with challenge, causing me to wonder if I am really cut out for any of the choices I’ve made. I grapple with that old, familiar guilt—guilt that it all feels so hard. Familiar with seeing more of what I am doing wrong than anything else of substance.
My unsuspecting five-year-old, Augustine, rounds the corner of the kitchen bar, catching me teary and red-faced. “Oh Mama, don’t cry . . . think about Easter!” Obviously trying to cheer me. Funny, I had just been wistful with wild desire to show up more like a Fourth-of-July mother. All the while the clouds outside stand staunch and grey. The child is earnest, reminding me of passion and resurrection. I strain to hear him.
I listen to this child’s prophetic reminder and let his grubby arms circle my neck, his embrace warming my hollow soul for a moment. Then I am left, still at the window, to stare wearily as he skips off to play. I straighten and stand tall but feel more like a child. A pressing, needy, ache gnaws. I have the audacity right at the kitchen sink to wonder why God seems so silent. I cry out to overcome the whispering of the enemy and combat my tired flesh. What was the truth and beauty of my call to motherhood again? Who could remind me of the call to be a model life-bearer?
I converted to Catholicism when I was in my mid-thirties, and initially the role of Mary was hard to understand. Having fallen in love with Jesus at a young age in a Protestant realm, I had been taught that she was personally and completely unrelated to me, and that she had long since passed from this earth to the next. Upon conversion, I came to understand her role in a Catholic, theological sense. But, more as a necessity of reasonable typology honored with my intellect.
But something happened that day at the kitchen sink. As I cried out, I saw in my mind’s eye a woman sitting on my kitchen stool. Wearing an apron, she invited me to bury my head in the folds. I was embraced and comforted in a way I had not been before. I looked up into the face of our Blessed Mother, and I knew then that I was not alone. I was not defeated. It was okay to need comfort. I am the child who needs reminding of my worth, my beauty, and my loveliness as I walk toward Jesus. Since that day, our Mother has not only been an intellectual concept, but a source of great love to me. What comfort. What grace. What sustenance in my mission of motherhood.
“Then he said . . . ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (John 19:27).