Before I had children, the story of the birth of Jesus was meaningful, but I sometimes had a hard time wrapping my head around the experience of it. When my husband and I got married and we went through the Catholic pre-marital classes, I found myself wondering at times (irreverently) about all the hullabaloo around Mary and her part of things. Most of the time I kept these musings to myself, but I still wondered.
The first Christmas after my precious eldest was born and we attended services where the Christmas story was read and Mary was mentioned, I could not keep back the tears. I was still nursing and was still dealing with the onslaught of emotions all the hormonal fluctuations brings, but that wasn’t it. For the first time, the story of Jesus’ mother resonated with me on a deeper level.
Mary rode a donkey for days about to give birth.
Mary labored in a stable with no one to support her but Joseph, a man who had not yet touched her sexually.
Mary was visited by a bunch of shepherds (pretty rough and smelly guys) within hours of giving birth.
Seriously, the woman was a beast and remained gracious and calm and marveled. I probably would have thrown things and said bad words.
Women and their place in society has always been a topic that has fascinated me. The recent election and recent information in the news has brought women and the issues facing women into focus and that has been amazing to watch. Women are taking responsibility for participating in the marketplace, in politics, in research, in professions traditionally presided over by men.
Was 2018 the year of the woman? Maybe, maybe not.
I was once a woman rather focused on a career. I was once a woman attempting to balance work and home. I was once a woman attempting to navigate this awe-inspiring responsibility called motherhood while watching my male colleagues experiencing life differently. I marvel at the difference in my life now. I marvel at how Mary handled birth and life and motherhood. It is important to watch, to look, and to evaluate; to arrive at one’s own conclusions about where it is important to allocate energy.
For tonight, this Christmas Eve, I wish I could whisper to Mary, “Happy Birthing Day.”