I just returned from a wonderful visit with my daughter and her family in Ohio to welcome the birth of my fifth grandchild. The miracle of a new baby never fails to amaze me and each time I am filled with an incredible sense of love and overwhelming responsibility. Each new grandchild is another opportunity to contribute to a life–to teach them about God, to help build character and to love unconditionally.
As a grandmother, I have learned through raising my own children, there is no perfect mother. However, my daughter has set expectations for herself and finds herself becoming frustrated if she fails to meet her own unrealistic standards. God never expected mothers to be perfect and this was indicated by his choice of mother for his son, Jesus. Mary was a wonderful young woman who loved God and desired to do his will. We see romanticized portraits of her sitting serenely holding the infant Jesus and think she is the epitome of motherhood. But, Mary was also anxious and fearful and made mistakes–just like us.
Luke 2:41-52 is an example. Mary and Joseph had gone to Jerusalem for the Passover with their family. Jesus was 12 at the time and we can assume Mary had several other children by now. Keeping an eye on small children in a city bustling with people and new sights and smells was a task many mothers can appreciate. After the festival was over, the family packed up and began the journey back home to Nazareth. They were a day outside of Jerusalem when Mary realized she had not seen Jesus since they left. She and Joseph began asking if anyone had seen him and after looking for some time decided to go back to Jerusalem to look for him. Leaving their other children in the care of relatives, they went back and found Jesus sitting in the temple. Luke 2:48 tells us Mary berated her son. “Do you know how worried your father and I were?” Jesus was God’s son, in his care, and yet Mary was beside herself with anxiety. First, she had lost her son and then she panicked.
Motherhood is not a perfect science. Each child is different, with unique personalities, and we must be flexible. Trying to be a perfect parent is a worthy pursuit but not entirely attainable. We will make mistakes, we will fail and come up short. God only expects us to do our best, to ask him for wisdom and raise our children to understand we are human and need God’s help.