A new year, a new decade.
(Or, if you’re being all technical, the end of a decade, since the new decade actually starts in 2021.)
There’s all sorts of possibility ahead of us. There’s opportunity everywhere, with exclamation marks and wide swaths of bright color.
But the cynic in me can’t help but respond that there’s also disappointment looming. There will be heartache and sorrow and fear. We’re sure to find a dead end at least once and to find ourselves crushed in some way.
I know it’s not just me. It happens every year.
Call me an old hand at this. It tends to look something like this:
- December 31: Goodbye, Old Year! Begone! See ya!
- January 1: Hello, New Year! I love you! We’re going to do so many wonderful things together!
- January 5: Reality sets in. Laundry. Deadlines. Dishes. Routine.
- January 8: Someone gets sick.
- January 10: I’ll make a resolution! It will make everything better!
- January 15: Nothing is better. It’s still me on the other side of the mirror.
And yet, in her wisdom, the Church has set me up not for failure, but for success. December 25, that day of much anticipation and planning, comes and heralds a season with it. We celebrate and plop back on the couch for multi-nap days. Time slows a bit for two weeks, as the year winds to a close and the chaos of the preceding six weeks wafts away.
A mere week later, we’re ushering in a new year and — glory, glory — a holy day of obligation. My kids roll their eyes (but know better than to protest) and we head off to Mass before we celebrate with dropping balls and confetti and junk food galore.
That January 1 holy day is in honor of Mary, Mother of God. It’s one that I’ve always loved, and one that has become notable for me in the last 15 years.
It was 15 years ago that I gave birth to my oldest child on January 1.
Suddenly, motherhood was upon me, no longer a squirming mass beneath my heart, an idea that was contained within my body. And — no joke — it was sudden. Being delightfully clueless (despite being so well-read) and stubborn (despite the admonitions), we didn’t get to the hospital for delivery until she was nearly out.
Holding that child in my arms, the one who would make Mary so much more than a remote statue in church, I faced a new year and a new life of sorts.
Nothing would ever be the same.
In the mess of childbirth and in the mess of motherhood, I find Mary a compatriot of the most understanding sort. She’s not looking down her perfectly shaped nose at me, but walking beside me and laughing with me at the things I find in the dryer. She’s not rolling her eyes from the other end of having had the perfect son, but commiserating with my struggles to instill virtue and concern and hygiene in these souls entrusted to my care.
I kick off the New Year without resolutions these days, but I do turn to Mary. Every year. Whether I want to or not. Something about having a kid born on her feast day makes it inevitable.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
image: Nuntiya / Shutterstock.com