Posted by: liturgicalyear | January 18, 2012

A mother’s heart

Nothing in the world prepares a woman for what happens to her heart when she becomes a mom.  Nothing.

Yesterday at the airport, I waved goodbye to my older daughter after she went through security on her way back to college.  This is the fourth such goodbye, and I thought it would be easier over time, but it’s not.  In fact, this one was as hard as the first.  It surprised me.  (Ohhhhh… come the tears again!)

It’s all good stuff.   She’s happy.  Doing well. Making good decisions.  Surrounded by solid friends and an active Catholic life.  Then why is it so hard, and why is my heart so heavy?

First, I think it’s because we love so much.  As moms we pour ourselves into our children.  We sacrifice and give.  We laugh and cry.  We hold them and we let them go.  We remember their first steps like it was yesterday, and as hard as it was in those younger years, we yearn to scoop them up like they are babes, but we just can’t do that anymore.  That time is gone, and it will never be back.  It is a bittersweet parting.

Second, I think it’s because with each passing goodbye, we get closer to the final goodbye when they are launched and living on their own as adults, and with each passing goodbye, we know it will never be the same again.  One day they will marry and start a family of their own.  We remember doing that ourselves and only looking forward, never looking back.  It never dawned on me how hard it must have been for my mom.  Now I know in a way I never imagined.

Third, I think it’s because it’s hard to envision what life will be like on the other side.  As moms, we are so enmeshed in the day-to-day and being available to meet the needs of our families that we don’t really look too far out because it always changes.  I remember before she arrived having a hard time imagining what life would be like as a mom at home, especially after 10 years of work.  Now, I struggle to imagine life at work after all the time at home.  Now I seek a future for me.  I haven’t entertained that thought for a long, long time.

Adoption has taught me that our children are God’s first.  He created them for His purposes and for His honor and glory.  He entrusts them to us for a time, to form them and prepare them for the work He has prepared for them in the world (Eph 2:10).  We pray that they have the grace to know and to do His will and that they stand firmly at the center of His will because that is the best place for them to be.  When we let them go according to His plan and purpose, we, too, stand in the center of His will – sometimes sobbing from the pain.

This brings me to our own heavenly mother, Mary.  She lived life as a woman and mom like we do.  She, too, had to let go, and no doubt cried many tears along the way.  She knew, like us, that we must surrender our children to the Father’s will because it is the best place to be.  She sobbed at the foot of the cross.

So, I look to her as a role model to help me to surrender to the Father’s will.  One of the first times we see Our Lady after the crucifixion is in the Upper Room (Acts 1:14).  She prays with the apostles awaiting the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  I, too, must do the same. I need to reach out to others so I don’t have to carry this burden alone, and I must pray and wait.  God will do the rest, including taking care of my daughter, showing me His plan for me, and mending my aching heart.

The house was empty when I returned from the airport yesterday.  I went upstairs only to see that my daughter had finally cleaned her room.  She later told me that she cleaned it “just for me.”  It won’t be a mess again until she returns in May.  I knew, too, that one day, it will stay clean for a long, long time.  I cried.  I think Our Lady cried right beside me.  Following her example, I turn to the Lord in prayer:

Out of the depths I call to you, LORD;
Lord, hear my cry!
May your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
I wait for the LORD,
my soul waits
and I hope for his word. (Ps 130:1-2,5)

Come Holy Spirit.  Anne



  1. I have recently taken up the Rosary of Sorrows and it occurred to me that when Mary wept at the foot of the cross she didn’t know about the resurrection yet. She wept bitterly at the loss, yet trusting God at the same time – in darkness.

    • Her fiat was complete trust from beginning to end. Oh, that we could have that faith! Thanks for sharing about the Rosary of Sorrows. Here’s a link for anyone that might be interested:

  2. I cried for my daughter when I read this. A mother’s heart is so full. It doesn’t matter how old you are, your baby is always your baby. Life is letting go. My mother always said, “let go and let God.” We know He said “I will be with you always.” (Mom)

    • He also said, “My grace is sufficient.” On that we must rely. I love you, Mom.

  3. Beautiful!!! Now I’m crying.

  4. Thank you, Anne, for putting this so beautifully. I am living right in the place you describe, times 3 (not including the “launched” child). God is so good, all the time! He is gently leading me through and beyond these journeys of the heart, back to His holy will for me and those still at home.
    Thank you also for giving me this small opportunity to write, and share in yours.

    • I emailed this post to some friends who are in the same season of life. Each one says it doesn’t get easier, and each one cried with me. We hold a silent suffering in the letting go, and in that knowledge our hearts are united. Let us lighten each other’s burdens by offering it up for one another. Anne

  5. God bless all the Ogrady girls and thier families love ya cous’s and auntie. Do you mind if I send to my Legion of Mary friends. I’m thier favorite class clown they still giggle about the Gypsy MaMa name I gave the (Pilgrim Virgin)

    • Hey John! Please do send along your Legion of Mary friends. Any friend of Mary’s is a friend of mine!

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