I find myself wondering often about the ordinary moments in the Holy Family’s life, particularly the day-to-day moments of Mary’s life with Jesus. Perhaps this is because I am a mother myself, and as an ordinary mother, I desire to feel a kinship with the Blessed Mother, who is so integral to my faith. Too often, however, I have put Mary on a pedestal. She deserves so much honor, but when I place her up there and then stand beneath her, I fall into the trap of believing that there is only so close I can come to being like her in this life.
When Mary is up on that pedestal, she is like the perfect image of a mother I tend to see on Instagram. She is always quiet and kind. She is either the patient, homeschooling mom with perfect daily lessons or the working mom who never fails to have time to help Jesus with his homework. This Mary has a house that is always clean. She places a home-cooked, nutrient-dense meal on the table every night at the perfect time. The conversations at this Mary’s dinner table are always rich and productive, and she never fails to be the perfect listener, keeping all she hears safe in her heart—and in the perfectly organized memory box.
I wonder sometimes if placing Mary on this pedestal and painting this perfect image of her life does a disservice to her. After all, God chose an ordinary human being to hold and birth God’s Son. He sent an angel to a poor, illiterate young girl in a small town and invited her to be Jesus’ mom. In my heart, I just don’t think God intended for her to be perfect at it.
In fact, I think God intended for her to be human.
Lately, I have been overcome by the desire for a more human, more ordinary Mary. More and more, I’ve sought to contemplate those hidden moments between Jesus’ birth and his death. In this contemplation, I imagine such moments as Mary encountering Jesus coming home sad because he was struggling to relate to other children his age. After all, he was a deep thinker. What if he were always years beyond the other children? What if they just didn’t “get” him? I also imagine the possibility that Jesus had delayed milestones. Maybe he didn’t walk at one and talk by the time he was two. Some brilliant thinkers of our time had delayed milestones. In this imagining, I can almost feel Mary’s anxiety as she encourages Jesus just to try to say something. I can feel the ache in her heart that says, “Maybe I did something wrong.” I can feel it, because I’ve experienced it too.
These moments of contemplation about the ordinary days of Mary and Jesus give me great peace. They help me feel a closer kinship to the Mother of God. They help me take her down from the pedestal for a while and stand next to her. They help me feel like maybe I have more in common with her than I thought.