I Was Going to Be the Perfect Mom

Did you get a load of this New York Post article? A New Yorker named Wednesday Martin just wrote a memoir called Primates of Park Avenue, due out June 2. The book chronicles her experience with Upper-East-Side women who wear motherhood like an assault rifle. According to Maureen Callahan's article about the book, these moms pay $400 an hour for play-date tutors, enroll 3-month-old infants in music classes, and time pregnancies so their children will be the oldest ones in class.

These ladies totally outclass me (out-everything me), but I don't mind. Though I shared some of that rabid thirst for demonstrable excellence at the very beginnings of my own mothering career, I quickly noticed I am not perfect. The discovery of my motherly failings began almost immediately upon learning I was pregnant, then continued on without interruption to this very day.

Thanks be to God, my children have not been left comfortless. My husband and I struggle on, with the Holy Family as a model. During this month of May, dedicated to mothers and especially to Jesus' mother, many moms have been sharing with me their families' relationships with Mary.

One mom who, like me, is not flawless, rejoices that Mary loved her son perfectly. Mary loves us all, in fact. This friend of mine encourages her own children to thank God for Mary's perfect love.

Here are some other ways families bask in Mary's motherly care:
  • visiting Marian shrines
  • singing Marian hymns together as a family, especially at bedtime
  • keeping images of Mary visible throughout the home
  • showing spontaneous signs of affection, like speaking to her, blowing her a kiss, or touching the image or statue when passing
  • praying the rosary
My children are pretty high-energy folks, so sitting through a whole rosary can be a challenge. When they were little, we would take out the rosaries and pray one or two simple prayers, stopping just before their attention spans quit.

When our eldest daughter made her First Communion, we asked her to lead one whole decade. It worked! The entire clan (ages 7, 6, 5, 3, and 2 weeks) could sit through a decade. When the next child made his First Communion, he led a second decade. Then the third, and the fourth, and what do you know, but by the time our fifth child made her First Communion, we were enjoying The Works.

Some families manage all of this with a whole lot less drama and planning, I know. But several other families who wrote in tell me they have similar ways of breaking up the rosary prayers into smaller chunks. No matter how long or short the prayer time, the goal is a personal encounter with Jesus and the people he loved so dearly, like his mom.

Loyola Press offers a rosary kit for children ages four and up. They sent me a kit and asked me to share my thoughts. So, I turned right around and shared the kit with some families (including one family with a son who has developmental delays), and asked what they thought.

The Loyola Press rosary kit includes 61 prayer cards, 1 lacing string, 4 Mysteries of the Rosary cards, and a diagram explaining how to pray the rosary.
Here are a few reactions:

  • Every time folks opened the box, they were struck by two things: the marvelous, colorful images; and the astonishing number of things in there.
  • One mom worried the cards would get mixed up. She decided to hand the cards to her children one at a time when it was time to add them to the string. Perfect solution!
  • Younger children (under age 8 or so) enjoyed stringing the prayer card "beads." Older children loved the look and feel of the cards, but one child (my own daughter!) wearied of the stringing--she preferred fingering traditional rosary beads while looking at the cards.
  • Children as old as 12 appreciated the clear language used to present the mysteries. Parents did too. Loyola Press has a knack for extracting the essence of mysterious truths and expressing it plainly, in simple language children can understand.
  • One mom with a special-needs teenager found the kit helpful to teach her son about the prayers. Unfortunately, the cartoon-y characters didn't help him pray; he prefers more realistic religious art.
  • Everyone agreed on the diagram mapping out the rosary prayers: it's brilliant.
  • One parent was surprised how well her children (ages 3 and 5) managed all the prayers. "I definitely recommend this kit to other parents," she said. "My three-year-old loved it and sat through the whole rosary. This is the only rosary guide I could find that was suitable for my young children."
When Jesus lived in Nazareth, he surely spoke with his mother every day. Disciples of Jesus who want to be like him benefit from striking up their own conversations with Mary. The rosary is a calm, meditative way to spend time with Jesus and his mom.

In the Gospel story of the Wedding at Cana, Mary's friends approach her and ask for help with a wine shortage. With unlimited faith in her son, Mary turns to Jesus and intercedes on behalf of her friends. She points the servers to Jesus, saying "Do whatever he tells you."

What perfect advice! I want to spend time with a woman like that, a woman who trusts completely in Jesus and leads others to him. How could your family benefit from praying with Jesus and his family?