Yesterday at church, we celebrated the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord at the temple. Since becoming a mother, I have been fascinated thinking about the Holy Family. This weekend I was a little achy and feverish recovering from yet another plugged milk duct. I get them a few times each baby, so 3 X 9 = 27 times so far. It popped into my mind that the Blessed Mother might have gone through the same thing. Did she ever have a plugged milk duct, or even worse, mastitis? Did she practically beg baby Jesus to nurse to relieve her pain?
That led me to think about my postpartum time. It’s a physically and emotionally hard time for me. Mother Mary had to take Jesus to the temple at about the same time I take my babies to be baptized at the Church. I can imagine that, just like me, she was tired, still a little sore, a little hormonal, barely able to keep up with cooking and washing diapers—and I have a stove, washer, and dryer! Thankfully, I don’t have to bring any animals with me for slaughter, although my brood of crazy kids makes it feel like I am herding cattle to church.
I wonder if St. Joseph ever held his pinky finger upside down, letting baby Jesus suck on his finger to let Mary rest? Jesus is 100% God but also 100% human, so surely he had an occasional tummy ache or ear ache. Did Joseph hold him against his chest and do the daddy-baby sway?
Did Mary and Joseph have a special lullaby for Jesus? Perhaps Joseph’s deep voice and strong arms calmed Jesus at times when Mary had run out of ideas. I wonder if Joseph carved a special toy out of wood, carefully sanding it smooth for Jesus to chomp on while he was cutting teeth?
Did Jesus smile and sigh with contentment as he nursed to sleep, just the way my babies have? As an older nursing baby, did he play peek-a-boo and laugh with Mary while he nursed? I wonder if Jesus was a squirmy nursing toddler just like my babies have been. Was Mary sort of relieved but also sad when Jesus weaned, just like me?
What about Jesus’ first babbles? I bet Mary’s heart melted with joy when baby Jesus called her “Mama.” Think about how profound this is! Mary was the mother of God! God called her His Mama!
I am so grateful that God called me to learn about Mother Mary through the Church. I am an adopted child of God, so Mary is my mother, too. She certainly understands being scared—visitors brought an herb used to embalm dead bodies as a baby gift, for Pete’s sake! Simeon told her a sword would pierce her heart, and Joseph woke her up frantically in the middle of the night to flee from King Herod trying to murder her precious baby!
Mary knows what it’s like to be a tired, scared mommy, but she tells us to always trust in her son Jesus. She has prayed for my painful clogged milk ducts, my croupy babies in the middle of the night, and my postpartum hormones going bonkers. She understands it all! Thank you, Mother Mary, for drawing me closer to your son through this exhausting, amazing journey of motherhood!