Mother’s Day is upon us once again, a day to honor the most important person in our lives: the one who gave us birth, brought us through infancy, celebrated each milestone, answered our questions, put up with our misdeeds, and through it all gave us love. My mother did all this for me, and for this I thank her. But as wonderful as these things are, my mother gave me a more wonderful gift still. She raised me to become the person God intended me to be, that I use my life to serve Jesus and my neighbor. And this happened because she let go of me.
Now that I am a mother of seven, my mother’s gift to me has become quite a challenge. My oldest child has already left home, living thousands of miles away. It was not easy to see her go. As I think ahead, what about the rest of my children? Am I ready to let go of them, not just physically but also inwardly? Is it my prayer that when the time comes for them to venture out that each one is equipped to do the will of God? Am I able to wholeheartedly entrust them to the love, care and guidance of God and others? In fact, do I believe the most important thing I can do for them as a mother is pray for them?
I often think of Mary, the mother of Jesus. When Jesus was twelve years old, Joseph and Mary took him up to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. Unbeknownst to them, Jesus stayed behind when they returned home. After searching three days they found him back in the temple courts in Jerusalem, sitting among the teachers, listening and asking questions. They were astonished. Upset, Mary asked her son why he had disobeyed so. Jesus replied, “Why have you been searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” After returning to Nazareth with his parents, the Gospel of Luke says that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and that Mary “treasured all these things in her heart.”
What a marvelous response! Mary “treasured these things in her heart,” just as she did in awe when the shepherds came to worship at the manger, and in pain at the old prophet Simeon’s words: “a sword shall pierce your own soul too.” In her heart she released her son to do the will of God, even to death on the Cross. This is not only true faith, but the truest love of a mother.
So it must be with me, and with each of us mothers. God has a plan for each and every child born into this world. “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart,” writes the prophet Jeremiah. Isn’t this our task as mothers, together with our husbands, to help our children to discover God’s purpose?
I believe it is only by letting go of my children that I will have ultimately fulfilled my God-given task as a mother. It saddens me, therefore, when I see how many mothers, not to mention how many children, try frantically to stay in constant, instant communication with each other. Instead of becoming free to discover God’s will, children become emotionally bound up inside; their efforts to find their path in life get smothered. The apron strings that should have been cut strangle them instead, preventing them from becoming who God intends them to be.
Mothers, our most vital obligation, the most loving deed we can perform, is to let our children go. Our motherly desire to nurture must be submitted to the higher task of surrendering our children to God. Just think how much more effective prayer would be! Granted, this is never easy, but true love never is. Even so, when I pray for my children this not only helps them along Life’s way but it brings me the peace and assurance that they are truly in God’s hands.
Only by giving over each child to God can our children freely blossom and find faith of their own. Yes, I have to let go again and again. I’m human. However, in doing this, of one thing I am sure: our children will love, honor, and thank us most of all for this one gift.