Growing up, I never wanted to become a mother. I didn’t grow up around babies, rarely babysat, and found infants to be fussy and too demanding (go figure). But motherhood crept into my heart shortly after I made my Marian consecration in college. I didn’t know it then, but the Blessed Mother was softening my hardened heart to see the beauty in this incredible gift of raising little souls.
Some believe the maternal instinct kicks in naturally for most women, but I am not one of them. My maternal instincts came from Our Lady. As the mother of three young daughters, I look in retrospect and understand quite clearly how her influence has shaped everything I am as a mother. Here are some specific lessons I’ve gained through Mary’s intercession:
My faith is weak, but God’s mercy is stronger
It’s taken me almost forty years to really believe that my faith is weak. During the past ten years, I subtly accepted certain prideful thoughts about myself related to my faith. Only this past Lent did I see the truth of how little virtue I actually have acquired and how much vice needs to be weeded out.
The Blessed Mother is the one who has revealed this to me. Shortly after I pray to her during my morning devotions, she hands me small doses of reality in her gentle and motherly way. In turn, I meditate on her virtue and ask her to help me in my walk as a mother.
Without knowledge of God’s mercy, however, the mere reality of my frail faith would lead me to despair. Never to neglect important details, Mary then points me to her Son’s Heart – His Wounded Heart – which was injured by my sin and yet is now the very source of healing for me. This is a profound truth that has brought incredible hope for me.
She never fails to come to my aid
I learned about St. Teresa of Calcutta’s “Flying Novena” to Our Lady a couple of years ago (which is ten consecutive Memorares, the final prayer being in thanksgiving). There have been several occasions when I am completely desperate and can’t discern what to do. In those instances, I have prayed the flying novena, and instantly, the Blessed Mother offers direct help.
Sometimes as a mom I just feel like I’m not getting through to my kids. Maybe I’m lecturing too much, maybe ignoring or overlooking their emotional needs. Mary’s intervention often gives me specific insights as to how I can teach my girls an important lesson that was previously falling on deaf ears.
When I am confused or in doubt, Mary gives me peace and clarity
I often struggle with uncertainty on how or when to discipline the girls, what type of consequence to administer, what behaviors to reward, and how to answer their tough questions. These make me restless and confused.
But I have been turning to Our Lady more frequently, remembering my Marian consecration. Sometimes it’s a short prayer — “Mary, my Mother, be a mother to me now” — sometimes it’s a Rosary, but no matter, my soul is flooded with a quiet peace and greater confidence in God’s grace.
Her example of virtue guides me as a mom
When I was a child, I found relating to the Blessed Mother difficult at best, because I only saw her meekness and humble submission. I, on the other hand, was a feisty and opinionated little girl. It wasn’t easy to turn to her in time of need.
Recently, I was conversing with a friend about how much I admired Mary’s total surrender to God’s will and her perfect obedience. My friend responded, “Yes, but Mary was also a strong woman. She is perfect in every virtue.” Until that point, I had never considered that maybe some of my choleric tendencies were actually virtuous and, therefore, part of Mary’s character.
My ability to make tough decisions for Sarah’s medical care, to ask hard questions of her specialists, and to accept the cross of her disability I now attribute to the Blessed Mother’s guidance.
Through her intercession, I have come to greater self-knowledge
Every May I renew my Marian consecration through St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion. Without fail, a major breakthrough in my interior life happens during that time: understanding patterns of sin, recognizing opportunities to practice humility and patience each day, finding hidden blessings. As a mother, I know I need to continue to spiritually advance so that I can both teach and model to my children the path to holiness.
The most important treasure I’ve been given as a mom is to offer Mary more than just my time; it’s to offer her my heart. That’s the grace of motherhood, too, that our hearts become havens for our children, our spouses, and, above all, God.