My Mom

Today, August 16, is my mom’s birthday, which makes it a perfect day to think about how completely amazing she is. And therefore to invite her into the Hall of Marys where her mother has gone before her and probably will welcome her with some pickled shrimp and a spicy Bloody Mary. The official drink of the Hall of Marys.

Me, my daughter, and my mom. The 3 Ms.

I’m starting to get off on a tangent. Here’s the point: My mom is awesome and has taught me a lot about family, honesty, patience, and faithfulness. She is the kind of person who raves about everything I do as if I am the most creative person she has ever met, even though she taught me almost everything I learned outside of a classroom. It is because of her that my sisters and I are carrying on the family tradition of ridiculous frugality, including ¬†saving even the tiniest leftovers for…soup. (Out of love for my mother, my husband needs to accept this and move on. We will not change.)

The youngest of three and mother of four, Mom has made fairness an art form and her life’s work. All of her children have agreed that she did not play favorites–she made us each feel equally loved (or put-upon, depending on what we had been up to.) No one ever divided a cake as evenly as my Mom. She had to, it was a matter of world peace and personal sanity.

She’s a Mary who grew up in a small town, but lived in at least 7 different cities with my father, and yet maintained her North Carolina accent. Which makes her either loyal or stubborn or both. They are family traits as far as I can tell. ¬†Also, she doesn’t put up with bullshit, because who has time for that?

I love you, Mom!

The Mother of Marys

Today is the feast day of Mary of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin. Some might think that it is about darn time that a blog called Maryology had something to say about this particular Mary. And, of course, I do.

As a Mary, I have grown up feeling a little weird about Mary of Nazareth. Maybe some of you non-Marys have had the same experience. She always seems so aloof when depicted in art, all alone and stone cold. In hymns and sermons she can come off as simultaneously superhuman and inhuman–a role model that is impossible to emulate. A lot of it has to do with the emphasis on her virginity, her purity. The untouched and untouchable mother. A contradiction.

Perhaps I should have just focused on the Mary in the Bible, because there she is not alone or cold at all. The biblical stories about Mary tell us about a woman–a girl in the beginning, really–who is never alone. She is with angels, her cousin Elizabeth, Joseph, shepherds, wise men, animals, children, and all the ragtag followers of her son, Jesus. Luke tells us she gave birth in a barn, for goodness sake.

Becoming a mother myself made me think about her in a new way–there is really nothing very aloof or pure about giving birth or raising a child. There is a reason the Magnificat comes BEFORE the nativity. But what really thaws my feelings about Mary of Nazareth, is thinking about her as a middle aged woman (well, in her day late 40s might have been old age) following her 30 year-old son around the country as he preached and healed and taught. Walking for miles and miles on the dusty road with the disciples is not much at all like being perched on a pedestal. Neither is watching the execution of your child. It might have made her feel isolated, but at Jesus’ crucifixion Mary was not alone. She was with his other followers, all supporting one another and no one knowing what would happen next.

As I induct her into the Hall of Marys, I am kind of glad that I waited this long to have Mary of Nazareth join this illustrious group of women. It wouldn’t have been right to have her there all by herself.

Mary having a little bit of fun