A Mother's Gaze
Updated: Jun 4, 2020
I know Mother's Day is over, but seeing that May is the month where we celebrate Mary the Mother of God, I figured it was still appropriate to write this.
There's this icon that sits on our dresser, below our prayer mantle in our bedroom. When I say my rosary at night in my bed, it stares at me. When I wake up in the morning, it's one of the first things I see. A few weeks ago I was doing my nightly FaceTime rosary with some friends and I could not pay attention worth a heck (naturally...) but this time it was because I caught her gaze.
It wasn't that I thought the icon was staring at me, no, I caught her gaze at her son. Sometimes I have a really hard time relating to the person of Jesus or Mary his mother, but when I see them in this form it's like I finally understand one small glimpse of their love.
I look at this and instantly think of how much I love to "smoosh" my daughter's face. She crawls all over me then I pick her up and give those chubby cheeks some smooshy kisses until she giggles. I wonder if Mary did that. As a little baby I would lay her on my chest, her face and cheeks would nuzzle underneath my chin, and I'd let her drool herself to sleep. I wonder if Mary did that.
Did she hold him like that in the middle of the day when there were more pressing things to do?
Did she nap with him because she was tired from his teething the night before?
Did she ever cry because she knew that one day it would be the last time she could hold him like that without his limbs flailing around?
Did she ever "smoosh" his face with kisses?
I have no idea, but those are the things I ask when I see this. That's my prayer when I look at this icon, day and night.
This icon was a birthday gift for my husband a few years ago, but only now does it resonate with me. Like so many of us, Mary was a mom who just loved her little babe. She laughed and cried with him, was filled with joy and I'm sure sometimes was a little overwhelmed. Two of my favorite scenes in the Passion of the Christ movie speak volumes to me about her motherhood.
The first is the flashback of Jesus as a toddler. He's running up those stairs, trips, falls, and cries out to his mama. She drops (literally) what she's doing to run and pick him up. She just holds and rocks him back and forth, letting him know she's there to make it all better. The second scene is the flashback where he's building that table. She calls him to come eat and then sees this ridiculously tall thing he's built (it's like a modern day dining table). He begins messing around with her, like any son would do, and they just share a joyful moment of laughter when he tells her he's going to build some tall chairs to go with it.
Those scenes aren't in scripture, but I love that we get to see a playful, raw relationship between a mother and child who so often seem so...far away?
I know that Jesus is divine, but I can't help but love to see the "normalcy" in him. I know Mary is the perfect woman (hello, she's the mother of God) but I find so much comfort in the every-day, mundaneness of her life as a mama. On my really hard days, I have to force myself to remember that even the most perfect mom had her tough days, too.
Listen, I know not everyone who reads my blog is Catholic. I'm well-aware that many non-Catholic Christians think we worship Mary and I'm not going to get into that here (quick hint: we don't worship her or the saints, I promise). I'll save that conversation for another day. But, I do want to encourage everyone who knows Jesus to get to know his Mama, especially if you're a wife or mom yourself.
Well, look at that picture again. She loves her Son, her family, more than any of us ever could. Her Son is Jesus Christ, the son of the living God. She nurtured him as a baby, a toddler, a teen and a man. She saw him throughout all of his humanity and divinity & loved him perfectly through it all. If that's not a woman to look up to then I'm truly at a loss for who is.
She has the mother's gaze I hope to emulate someday: a gaze of perfect love. Reflecting on something as silly as whether or not she smooshed faces with baby Jesus has begun to play a huge role in my relationship with Jesus, his mother, and my own baby girl. For whatever reason, it makes their relationship seem more normal, more concrete. It's then that I feel them so close to me. It's then that I can really feel them guiding me through the highs and lows that come with being a mom.