In both thought and prayer during the last few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about the women who took care of me while my mom taught science at the local middle school. I have such fond memories of the time that my sister and I spent at the local daycare center, toddling behind our caretakers, Hazel and Juanita, as they worked to teach us manners and independence. They are remembered often when my sister and I get together and reminisce about our childhoods, as is our memory of Ms Marilyn, whose simple presence inspired us each day to do better than the day before.
This past summer, upon hearing about Ms Marilyn’s passing, my family and I felt as though a big chunk of our hearts was missing. In my mother’s words, “She raised a generation in our town;” so it is hard to imagine that she is no longer here to help our generation raise the next one. My last time to see Ms Marilyn, about five years ago at a wedding, we spoke about faith and family, and she was interested in how I ended up “all the way up in NYC!” to study theology. As she looked at my children, she smiled and asked, “Well, did you ever think you would have all of this? The husband and the kids and getting a degree in theology?” I laughed and replied, “No, not at all!” And in her boisterous but lovely way, she exclaimed, “Me neither!” It was a true “God’s words to my ears” moment.
That was the last time we ever spoke, but I have not forgotten these words, as they remind me often of the importance of community and motherhood, and how God blesses us with nurturing people like Hazel, Juanita, and Ms Marilyn to show us the way. When we are young, there are many things that our parents do for us that either we miss due to our immature sight or we do not fully understand until we become parents ourselves. Having Hazel, Juanita, and Ms Marilyn in my life, and the beauty that they added to our family, was something that I did not quite understand until I found myself navigating motherhood as a working mom who was searching for the same kind of community—one of great faith and virtue—that my parents had blessed me with.
As moms, one of the most important decisions we make in our lives is whom we invite in to be a part of, and to help us build, our domestic church. When we are lost for words or cannot see where to turn next, we will find the support and guidance we need in these people, much like Mary and Elizabeth found in each other as they were raising their sons, Jesus and John.
Edith Stein said, “A woman’s soul is fashioned as a shelter in which other souls may unfold.” How blessed we are to have one another as we continue onward in the “joyous mess” that often accompanies motherhood wherein we are called to nurture souls as they unfold and grow. God is so good to us!