I once lamented not buying a t-shirt on Etsy that read “Embrace the Chaos, Choose Joy.” The perfect description for life as a mother of young children, I thought! Until I experienced the chaos of my young children being sick with colds for two months, won’t-let-you-catch-a-break sleeplessness, incessant whining from my 2-year-old, defiant boundary pushing from my 4-year-old, and an overnight stay in the hospital with my 8-week-old. Of course there is still joy. Of course there is deep love. But in reality, the chaos is hard.
In the chaos, I have learned that one of the most life-giving things I can do is take a shower. It is sometimes a straight up baptismal experience. I step in feeling weary and when I get out, I feel alive again. After a shower one evening this week, I went to put on my comfies and the only t-shirt I wanted was my husband’s. If the waters of my shower are akin to baptism, my husband’s t-shirt is like Mary’s mantle.
While in the hospital with Lucy for her RSV this week, I talked with Mary a lot. Mary, be with us, guide our car as we drive to the ER. Mary, you held Jesus while he was sick; help me as I hold Lucy. Mary, give me your loving strength. Mary, wrap me in your mantle— let me feel your presence as my mother.
When I put on Ian’s shirt after showering, I felt that sense of comfort that comes with being clothed by the one you love. Ian’s black t-shirt was a physical recall of how Mary cloaks us in her tender love.
As I strive to love my kids amidst the chaos, I am grateful for Notre Dame, Our Mother who holds us in her simultaneously tender and fierce love. Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us.