Friday, February 26, 2016

A mother's arms

My toddler was on the toilet trying (slowly) to go to the bathroom, my crawler was trying (quickly) to escape from the bathroom (while eating toilet paper), and I wanted mostly to be sitting at the dining room table, drinking my lukewarm coffee and eating rapidly cooling eggs and toast.

And the little person I was annoyed with says, “Mama, you're like Mary.”

She had my attention. “Really? Why?”

“You have an arm.” Pause. “And a hand.”

Not because of my limitless patience? My unending sacrifices? My soothing presence? But because I have an arm.... and a hand.

It’s actually a very appropriate observation. I’m abundantly aware of how important my arms and hands are to her on a daily basis. She loves to rub my upper arm at night, during the night, before nap, during nap, and at all times of distress during the day - it’s the equivalent of a baby blanket/cherished stuffed animal/pacifier all rolled into one. Bonus: It drives me crazy.

One million times per day, I have to reach something she can’t get on her own. From the toothpaste she wants to eat straight out of the tube, to the Brother Francis Christmas DVD that I’ve memorized, she is always wanting something beyond her grasp. I hear, "Mama, mama!" and see her reaching for something while I'm cooking, cleaning, in the shower.

My hands slice apples for her just so, and put hair ties in her hair very tight, they find the right button on the remote, and squeeze her hand as we walk to the library. She needs them. They make it possible for her to do things that she couldn’t normally do.

We are tasked to be God’s hands and feet in the world, and she sees that in me somehow. Here I was, feeling like my character was somehow worthy of a Marian comparison, and she was noticing something I’d forgotten - that my simplest selfless actions made me seem like a saint. That while she’s watching Mary nestle baby Jesus into the manger on that Brother Francis DVD, or looking at the statue of Mary handing St. Dominic the rosary at Church, she's seeing Mary do for others, helping others, ministering to others.

St. Teresa of Avila said it better than I ever could: