There’s Something About Mary

Prayers-for-Expectant-Mothers

On Day 3 of the 12 Days of Christmas challenge, my sister suggested I ponder what it would be like to be Mary. A not-so-simple task, I jumped on it and below I wax poetic. Enjoy…

Anyone who knows me personally might find it laughable that I could compare myself to Mary, mother of Jesus, but I propose we have a few things in common. Though I’ll be the first to admit Mary’s devotion to God and steadfast womanly innocence are wildly different from my own, we both have gone through the rigors of childbirth—and we both made treks of quite some distance prior to bringing life into this world.

While I am tempted to put forth a discussion on how Mary might have reacted when the angel Gabriel came to visit her to deliver her the news of a divine pregnancy, I struggle with that concept too much to engage in theological debate. I often entertain the notion that Jesus was the unplanned result of a natural tryst between two consenting betrotheds. However the 30+ years of Methodist ideology pounded into my head has me scared shitless that I could be wrong—and do I really want to piss off the blessed mother? I don’t think so…

What I can relate to, however, are the feelings of impending labor, knowing my life was about to change forever, knowing that while I might not have the son of God in my uterus, the tiny life I was about to nurse at my breast would create her own mark on this world. And before I could meet this wonderful gift, I would need to make a journey of my own.

With a due date of April 16, I got express permission from my doctor to make a 450 mile trip for a once-in-a-lifetime event: I was to be the Matron of Honor in my sister’s wedding. Lacey was to wed on March 20 and I was to stand by her side, eight months pregnant, to witness her vows of fidelity, honor, and love. So on St. Patrick’s Day 2004, I loaded my whale of a self into the backseat of our Toyota Camry, surrounded by pillows and blankets aplenty and headed to Atlanta. I can’t remember how many pee breaks we made, how many times I had to shift my body to move baby from my bladder, or how often I had to do deep breathing exercises at the Braxton-Hicks contractions that racked my body. I had an arduous 900 mile round trip journey…but there is no way I wouldn’t have made the trip.

Thinking about it now, I cannot imagine how Mary and Joseph made that 90 mile trek with her in her late third trimester. She had the “luxury” of riding on a donkey while Joseph led her to Bethlehem, but she certainly needed pee breaks, too. Mary and Joseph had a legal duty to make the journey, by order of King Herod, so not returning to Judea wasn’t even an option. Though I was not legally bound, I get that feeling of responsibility to one’s kin to stand up and be counted.

I returned home on March 21 and made it another week until labor started. I remember those first labor pains and rubbing my belly knowing I had only a few short hours (or 18 long ones) before 2 would become 3 and my beautiful daughter would shift my moniker from simply wife to that of mother. I rocked in the rocking chair and gazed at the newly painted John Lennon mural of her nursery and wondered what she would smell like and whether she would look more like me or like her father. I thought things that every mother thinks when her world is about to change—things that I’m quite certain Mary thought too, as a mother naturally would.

There are so many questions I have when I think about Mary: How cool was it that she didn’t have to do the needle/thread test—she knew without an ultrasound that she was having a son. How on earth did she make that journey without the use of cruise control or noseplugs to ward off offensive smells? By the same token, does she know how lucky she was that she didn’t have to gulp the orange drink for the mid-gestation diabetes test? Once she found out she was knocked up, did she take advantage of the 2nd trimester hormone surge and pounce on Joseph once and for all? So many questions, some of which I’m sure she had too and she didn’t have the help of online message boards to find out whether that really was her mucus plug or not…

In this Christmas season, I find a kindred spirit in mother Mary as we celebrate the birth of her first born. After all, there’s something special about the one who first calls us mama. As for all of my questions, while fun to ponder, I harken the Beatles who remind me that mother Mary whispers words of wisdom, just “let it be…”

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