I started the day feeling a bit like Supermom. (This is a new feeling for me.) We are relocating and my husband is out of town working with the movers. This leaves me here alone with two young children in a small place with air mattresses and folding chairs. The move has been hard on the eldest and daddy being gone has made it worse. Then my eldest gets sick. Nothing serious but boy has he been whiny and clingy. So this morning when he was finally feeling better I thought 'Aha! I've come so far! Go me!'.
This feeling lasted until I had to go to the grocery store after the baby's nap time. I was loading the kids into the car and then... my baby pukes all over. Then she sneezes and gets snot all over my shirt. But what can I do? We have to eat. I made a very quick trip and then made a fast, frantic dinner at which point my daughter decided that she was DONE and my son decided not to eat the meal he had specifically asked for. In a relatively short time (which seemed like forever) both my children were sleeping after going to bed in tears. I went downstairs and looked at my trashed kitchen (which I had so optimistically scrubbed a few hours earlier) and thought: "Oh my God! This is it! This is my Life!" And so it is.
This is where the "what would Mary do?" starts to unravel. Because really, moments like that never would have taken her by surprise. She would have known her future from early childhood. But we ladies in the west have a harder time of it because we were trained to be something other than mothers. Home economics was not available in my high school. Many of our mothers worked. Face it, ladies, we are totally unprepared for motherhood. We're handed a baby and a shiny catalogue for adorable nursery items and off we go. Many of us choose to or have to work. We are told we can breast feed or formula feed. We can put our babies in strollers or we can carry them in slings. There are so many options! And the future years of children melting down at dinner time? We all know that it happens but at least I have this idea that if I had planned well enough that it all could have been avoided. We no longer live in a society that revolves around the family or that understands the dynamics of young children. If you can't buy something to fix it or avoid it then you are left on your own.
In Mary's day society was strict about these things. There was comfort knowing what was expected of you because life didn't change very much from generation to generation. There was a system and it worked. Unless you became an orphan or a widow and left to starve. This was just the reality of the ancient world. (The academic in me must clarify the above statement by saying the system worked unless you became an unprotected member of society such as an orphan or widow without family to take you in. It doesn't sound as zippy but it is more accurate.)
But Jesus didn't think like that. He would probably never say: "Gee, Theology Mom, if only you chose to go to the grocery store yesterday instead of succumbing to the slothful habit of getting take out last night you wouldn't have had two children melting down at the same time. What would the neighbors think?" This is because Jesus is less interested in social norms than he is about love. Not just love as it is commonly used in English. Love as in 'Caritas', which means the love that inspires you to action.
So you see, Ladies, we don't have to be supermoms (the feeling WAS nice while it lasted). And this is a good thing because if we start thinking that way we'll be more worried about what other people think of us than doing what is best for our families. (That would be vanity.) We are also lucky because even though it might make our lives very confusing at times we have options that our mothers never would have dreamed possible. Best of all we believe in Jesus who calls us into a more loving relationship with Him instead of following a bunch of rules because that is the way it has always been done.
So next time you tend to your child's cries instead of, say, running from the room screaming, (though there are times for that as well), think about caritas. Your love for your child has prompted you to go beyond your desires and what you think is possible to do what is best. In a single moment you have fully lived Christ's commandment to love another as He loves you.