At some point or another, we have issues with our mom. Maybe it is universal — men and women — but I know that for daughters, most of us have a period where we think our mom and maybe our grandmother, too, is wrong about everything and all we want to do is be different from them.
With the Lily Myers post from yesterday, I’ve been thinking a lot about the development of my relationship with my mother and my grandmother. I can remember for a time in my life pitying them. Thinking they weren’t strong women. Thinking they weren’t “liberated”. Thinking that I understood the world better. For me, as a woman, this phase was necessary. As a young child I grew up being obedient to them and not reflecting too much on what they did or taught and just taking it at face value. Then when I moved away to college, it gave me some distance. It gave me some time to look at the matriarchs in my family through the lens of the outside world. The pendulum had to swing the other way. I needed to see them with this hypercritical eye.
But for me, especially after I had kids, I understood La Lupe and my mother much better and understood the strength and the sacrifice necessary in motherhood. Those traits that I saw as weakness turned into love and dedication to their family. Of course, they’re not perfect, nor am I, but after becoming a mother, I see how much of our life has to change to grow a new life around us. How much our behavior, our goals, our desires have to change. And while we strive to support our husband and kids, we know that the line between sacrificing for the family and continually developing our own self and faith is a hard one to walk.
It reminded me of a time when I was taking a feminist theology class in college. Class had just started and a student walked in the door fuming. On her way to class she took a different route and passed a statue of Mary with baby Jesus sitting on her lap that she hadn’t seen before. The words “Seat of Wisdom” were engraved on it. “That’s all Mary is to the Church? Furniture. A chair!”
Even our Mother, the Mother of God, is not exempt from our growing pains. Mary’s seeming passivity and meekness makes her seem a very frail character. But being the Seat of Wisdom is anything but weak. In order for the Word of God to be born through her, Mary had to have unparalleled faith and wisdom to accept the Wisdom of God. She is the strongest of all humanity to be chosen. Being the seat of wisdom is being the seat of power. Not the power to force people to do what she wanted, but she was endowed with the power to do the most amazing thing of her whole life — accept God’s will and raise the Son of God.
Being a mother, I know to expect this kind of reaction from my daughters. I know one day they will think they know so much better than me, they’ll think they understand the world so much more, they’ll think I’m not doing or saying the right thing, they’ll think I’m weak and small-minded. Part of maturing is giving them the space to reject what they know and trust that they will come back around. Most of us do.
Recently during a homily, the priest told us that above all we must love our parents and respect our parents. We have no idea the kind of sacrifices they made for us.
It’s true. We don’t really know what is going on in our parents’ lives. Maybe they have some real struggles that we don’t know anything about. Just like this student and Mary, we may think we understand the big picture, but really only God does. And when we take closer look at our mother, we can probably see that most of what they do comes from a place of love and a place of strength.