Hail Mary, Full of Grace

I wear a special silver medal around my neck each day. A delicate, flower-bordered medal from France; the image of Mary with her sweet baby Jesus on her lap. This medal is what I hold onto when I need a little divine intervention, a little extra patience, or a bit of maternal support as I feel (and pray) my way through motherhood.

My whole life, I have felt a special connection with that sweet young mother, our holy Mary. The ultimate mother. The Mother of God

Maybe it’s because I have been raised Catholic all my life, or maybe just because I have always wanted to be a mother above all else. But for whatever reason, Mary has always been my comfort. I can’t remember when I started directing my prayers her way, but I still almost always choose Mary herself to pray to.

Those long painful years when I wanted a baby more than anything? I wore my Mary medal of comfort around my neck and prayed to her at night to please bring me my own baby, someday.

I think she must have heard me, because eventually, she did. When my miracle baby started to grow in my tummy, I felt more connected to her than ever. Two years ago this month I was four months pregnant, and singing at a beautiful baptism mass at our church brought me to tears. I couldn’t take my hands off my belly. My tiny baby had just started to move in the weeks prior, and he danced in my tummy that entire mass as we joyfully sang about Emmanuel; the baby Jesus who was coming soon. Just like in the Bible when Elizabeth’s baby boy (John the Baptist!) danced in her tummy at the sound of pregnant Mary’s voice when she entered the room, (in Luke 1:41) he was also leaping with joy. I think both babies knew the Lord was near; they could feel the Holy Spirit.

And a few months later, during those long-but-wonderful, exhausting first weeks and months of motherhood; it was still Mary to whom I prayed. Constantly. I asked her for guidance, for patience, for energy. I asked her to help me be a good mother, like she was.

I guess it’s my blind faith that makes me know, without a doubt, that she was a good mother. I guess we don’t really know that she was–we never hear all that much about Mary actually mothering; we simply believe that she gave birth to her baby boy that first Christmas night and laid him in that manger. We all know how the story goes; there was no room at the inn, but she made do anyways. In a barn. She did what she had to do, like all mothers do (and have done, throughout the ages). She did the best she could, with what she had to work with. And mamas have been emulating her ever since.

We also know that Mary accepted her role with pure grace–her only warning a visit from the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:26-38). She accepted her life-changing news wholly, and without questioning. 

Talk about pressure! It’s daunting enough to bring any child into this world, but to carry the Son of God? And raise him? Now that’s some serious motherhood pressure! 

Even though I always felt connected to Mary, I didn’t really–fully–get it until I became a mother myself. I can’t imagine her anxiety during that pregnancy. Her hopes and her fears for her child’s future. The beautiful, yet brutal beginning to their family story–what with Joseph almost leaving her when he heard the news, and then the whole having a baby in a barn adventure. Yikes!

Talk about grace!

Hail Mary, full of grace.

I often wonder whether mother Mary was funny, or playful, or if she was all business. But I never wonder whether or not she was a good mother. I know that she was. 

Mary has guided me through many a tough time, insprired me to be an accepting and open-minded mother, and comforted me on countless occasions. I believe that in spite of our many differing views in our myriad faiths, we can all benefit from keeping Mary in our hearts and our minds. Even if it is just the idea of Mary.

As a proud Catholic, I acknowledge that our fierce adoration of the Blessed Virgen Mary may at times garner us criticism from other Christian sects; but I personally believe that our high esteem for her is something that the Catholic faith has gotten right. 

I think Pope John Paul II nailed it when he said:

“At the centre of this mystery, in the midst of this wonderment of faith, stands Mary. As the loving Mother of the Redeemer, she was the first to experience it: ‘To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator’!”

Hail Mary, full of grace. 

Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

My dear fellow mamas–past, present, or future:

This holiday season, and beyond; take comfort in the grace of the Blessed Virgen Mary, and find her peace in the craziest moments of motherhood. She is watching over all of us, with love. 

(And personally, I think she watches over the mamas just a tiny bit more closely.)

Ave Maria, Gratia Plena. 

His Dig Dreams Are Big Dreams

Most little boys go to bed with a teddy bear, a tattered blue blankey, or a lovey they have carried around for months. I have offered all of these options to our little man, but he simply isn’t interested.

I guess you could say that Hank has a “lovey”, but his lovey is no cuddly puppy or bear. Hank’s lovey is a digger. And no, not the nice soft stuffed excavator that goes along with his Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site book. Oh, no. Hank goes to sleep at night with a death-grip on a cold, metal skid-steer he affectionately calls “dig-dig.”

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Dig-dig and Tractor

You see, our little boy has a love–an obsession, really–for heavy equipment of all kinds. It runs in the family, and he gets to foster his love often; thanks to the good luck that landed him on a Montana farm. Hank bounced around in a dump truck when he was still bouncing around in my tummy; and his affinity for that big huge truck seemed to be born into him from day one.

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Digger and Dump Truck

There are days I’m convinced that Hank has hydraulic fluid running through his veins!

Hank’s grandpa owned and ran a heavy equipment dealership for many years before “retiring” as a farmer, and Hank’s daddy sold/rented heavy equipment as well. Both of them can run anything. (And run it well.)

Hank doesn’t just get his love for running equipment from the men in his family tree, though–he also gets a little of it from his mama.

I was lucky enough to grow up on that same Montana farm, with that equipment-loving father who figured both of his kids might as well learn how to run everything on the farm. My big brother and I ran skid steers as soon as we could reach the pedals, and before we could reach them we rode along with dad, seat-belted onto his lap, like Hank does now.

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Moving Dirt with Gramps

I’m willing to bet that one day, my little digger-man will end up in the construction industry running something, and I am already behind him on that 100%. I don’t feel the need to push him to shoot for an Ivy League school, or to encourage him to be a doctor or a lawyer. I see how happy that little boy is when he is digging dirt or hauling gravel, and that’s plenty good enough for me!

It helps that I also see how happy his grandpa is–digging dirt or hauling gravel–and I know that it may simply be in their programming. I will encourage Hank to follow his dreams, whether they include construction or not, but I will thoroughly enjoy the fact that they do, right now.

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Motor Grading with Daddy

I will let him bring dig-dig to every meal with him as he insists on doing, currently. I will let him scoop up peaches with the bucket of that darn toy, and even let him use it as a spoon now and again. (What little boy doesn’t want to scoop food into his mouth with a bobcat bucket?)

I will let him sit on my lap as we read Diggers Go three times in a row before every nap-time and bed-time, and I will do my best to make the right sounds. And I will let him wear his equipment PJs more than any of the others, because of course, they’re his favorites.

I will do my best to keep a mental note of where each piece of equipment gets left around the house throughout the day, because Hank can’t quite keep track of them all yet.

I will keep handing him off to dad or grandpa; whoever happens to be running something that day.

And most importantly; I will keep letting him go to bed with dig-dig. Because to some little boys, dreams of diggers are much more magical than dreams about anything else.

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Excavator Operator

Traveling Husband Survival: Coffee, Wine, and Satire

Well, as the hubs heads off for a few days of work in sunny Austin, I am gearing up to survive my three days of married-single-parenting a cooped-up toddler. (Thank you, freezing Montana winter.)

Good red wine and extra coffee have been purchased. . .and some satire therapy was in order!! 

Here are 5 Ways Traveling Husbands Are The Best Thing Ever When You Have Kids

(In case you were wondering.)

They are. Just ask me. Anyways, go have a quick laugh at my expense, and enjoy the other hilarity on MockMom (the satirical little corner of Sammiches and Psych Meds that I love so much). Now go!

Enjoy!

Hurry home, honey!