by Sister Marlyn Evangelina Monge
Spring is my favorite time of year. Does it get any better than shedding heavy coats and enjoying the wonder of things coming back to life? But this has been the most unique spring of my life. This time has provoked anxiety and worry in all adults, and perhaps even more so in parents who are trying help their children navigate this time of quarantine and give them a sense of safety and love, all while experiencing the uncertainty of this pandemic.
For those entrusted with caring for God’s children (regardless of the child’s age), worry, anxiety, and doubt are not unique to a time of pandemic. Who hasn’t second guessed a decision, been concerned that a child does not seem to be learning the lesson (whether academic, life-related, or religious), or prayed anxiously for a child’s well-being? As we accompany our children through EVERYTHING, who accompanies us?
As we enter this month during which we honor all moms, we remember in a particular way Jesus’s mother whom he chose to share with us. Just as she accompanied the disciples in the early Church, Mary continues to guide those who turn to her. True to her vocation of motherhood, Mary walks with us throughout our life as she gently guides us closer to her son. From her we can all learn how to be the loving adults our children need us to be.
My sister Betsy is for me a great example of reliance on Mary’s motherly help, guidance, and comfort through the joys and anxieties of parenting. Betsy is a wife and mother of two energetic and amazing kids. There have been times when she has worried about how to teach them right from wrong. She has second-guessed herself and wished she had said or done something differently. She is also a woman of faith. Betsy has spent countless hours praying for her husband, her children, and herself. She often turns to the Blessed Mother to intercede for her because she recognizes that she needs God’s help in raising the children he has given her.
I recall one time while I was on vacation visiting Betsy and her family. A summer thunderstorm shook the house and I ran to help close windows, when I came upon an endearing sight. She was calmly sitting on the sofa holding a little hand that was sticking out of a sofa-cushion-fort. My three-year-old niece Gabriela was terrified of the loud thunder and she sought comfort from her mom. While the storm raged my sister sang “Hail Mary, Gentle Woman” over and over until her daughter stopped shaking. Later my sister explained to me that whenever Gabriela was frightened she would remind her to turn to Jesus and Mary who would protect her from all her fears, and they would sing that song. What my sister may not have realized is that she was modelling for my niece what Betsy herself did when something overwhelmed her…turn to Our Lady—which we ourselves learned from our own mother.
Fast forwarding many years, my niece is now a teenager. Last year Gabriela was confirmed and she chose “Maria” as her confirmation name. Gabriela explained to me that she chose the Blessed Mother because she felt a deep connection to her, probably due in part to Betsy’s own love for Our Lady, passed on to her children. She said that in every moment of her life she has felt Mary with her, guiding her, helping her. Gabriela knows that Mary is with her even when life gets scary or confusing.
I encourage you to turn to Mary too for her motherly help and care. She will always be there for you and your family. No matter what life throws at you, no matter what mistakes are made, Mary is a merciful and loving mother who will be there to help us through even the most frightening storms (or pandemics!) we may face.
If you’re reading this wondering how to be all that your child needs you to be, I can assure you that no one can be the perfect parent. But if you do your best and bring Our Lady, Our Queen, Our Mom to parent with you, then you really are doing all you can to raise your child well—even during a crazy pandemic.