When Jonathan was six months old my husband left for a six month deployment. Overnight I was a single mother and it was an eye opening experience to say the least. I felt totally incompetent and in way over my head with my very high-need, strong-willed son. One week after Jerry left, Jonathan figured out the whole crawling thing.
It was exhausting.
He.never.stopped.moving. He had two speeds, awake and asleep. He was (and remains to this day) a fiercely determined human being. If he wanted something, he was fearless in his pursuit of it. He was a monkey, climbing before he walked. He had this piercing scream that could deafen someone three states away. He would throw himself back in his crib and pound his hands and feet when he didn’t want to go to sleep at night.
He got into everything. The VHS tapes had to be moved after he discovered how to remove the tape from the plastic case. Every door had to be locked or whatever was left out was toast in a matter of minutes.
Every night I would pray for patience. I would rock him for hours each night, reading book after book to calm him. I would call my mother and beg for advice. I mean this kid was not even a year old and I had nightmares over what the teenage years would hold for us. All she told me was to “love him. Just love him.”
Wasn’t I doing that?
One night I hit a brick wall. I had tried the famous “sleep training” for almost three weeks and I just couldn’t do it anymore. As the tears ran down my face, I looked at the calendar and realized I had another two months to survive as a single parent. I went into my sons room, gathered him in my arms and wept while I rocked. He was crying, I was crying and the thought of adding all those babies I dreamed of in my youth to this current situation made me almost pass out in panic.
I thought that I would be a mom of one from then on. That’s when I saw the picture on the wall. It was Our Lady of Sorrows in the Pieta. Here I was exhausted, both physically and mentally, holding my son whispering words of love and calm, hoping he would fall asleep sometime soon. There she was holding her son for the last time.
I bet Mary had rocked Jesus when he cried. I bet Mary was tired and exhausted when Jesus was a little guy, nursing him as he grew. But the difference is there was no sin on her soul, no sin between her and God, just humility and grace flowing between them. Me? Well the sin was piling up by the day and the frustration was off the charts. No humility here.
I picked up my Rosary from the little table next to the rocking chair and I started to pray the Rosary. By the third decade, Jonathan was asleep. Sound asleep.
I had accidentally stumbled upon a solution that night. Actually, if I am being honest, I think Our Lady helped a Mama on the edge of losing out that night. Something about the repetitive prayer calmed him and me, allowing us both to ease into rest and then sleep. Mother Mary knew exactly what my hyper little man needed. She knew what a lonely and exhausted mama needed as well. I would put him to bed the same way until he was three years old and his sister arrived.
We needed to give ourselves over to prayer, to enter into the words, breathing them in and out, speaking the love quietly and gently. To this day, when we say the family rosary, we all are calmer and quieter afterwords. Prayer is funny that way.
Pray with me won’t you…
Dearest Mother Mary,
Thank you for your steadfast love and gift of daily grace given through the gift of the Rosary. Thank you for inspiring me all those years ago to pick up those sacred beads and begin a devotion that has continued for 27 years. Thank you for inspiring the words to the “Hail Mary” by giving your “yes” to the Lord and allowing your life to be given freely in service to the world, starting with the birth of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. May we, inspired by your humble example, say “yes” to whatever challenge is placed in our path. May we seek your intercession when we are mired in worry and doubt, allowing you to lift us up as and hold us close, as you did for your son, in the beginning of his life and at the end.
We ask this in the name of your son Jesus,