“It’s a boy,” my brother-in-law said with great shock as he stood before a roomful of nail-biting family members and friends. The stunned pandemonium that followed shook the desk clerk, the cleaning service, and the poor woman who just wanted to use the maternity ward bathroom.
We’d been expecting a girl.
Right from the moment he was born, my nephew was teaching. And surprising.
The birth of a baby jolts everyone and everything within earshot. My structured sister is now awake around the clock, her accountant’s schedule at the whim of a nine-pound bundle of spit-up and pee.
Her voice is the same but her life has completely changed focus. There is still Sportscenter, but it’s the two AM edition with a wailing, colicky baby in her arms rather than the 6 PM background noise for dinner for two with her husband.
Imagine enduring this without disposable diapers.
Imagine enduring this knowing your child is also your God.
Who to call when the Savior has colic?
Nine months before little Jesus arrived, the Blessed Mother’s life was set. She was well-respected in her village. She was engaged to a nice boy. Her life lay before her, a straight and serene desert road.
Perhaps full knowledge of the healings, the uproar, the lashings, and the cross arrived along with the news of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38). But more likely, Mary climbed the mountain of motherhood and awareness simultaneously, the latter just as slowly and painfully as Jesus’ apostles did (Mark 8:15-21). She certainly expressed hurt surprise when, after searching up cavern and down alley for her Son at the age of twelve, she finally found Him calmly questioning the Temple elders (Luke 2:42-52).
The rabbis weren’t the only ones to learn from the experience. When next we see Mary and Jesus in action together, she’s gently pushing Him to get His ministry on the road at the Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11 ). She knew He would have to leave her. She also knew it was time.
I was overwhelmed the first time I held my nephew in my arms, pulling him close to my heartbeat to stop his crying.
“Hold his head at a higher angle,” my sister said as he squished his face up. We all have much to learn, as Julie realized a day later when she figured out the hard way that the diaper might not slip so much if she wrapped the baby in a little jumpsuit before slipping him into a sleeping gown.
I looked down at this little person in awe as yet another pile of tiny clothes went into the washer. I was no longer the baby of the family, and my big sister no longer—as I had once thought—knew everything there was to know about conducting a peaceful adult life.
When Mary gave birth, a shock was born. A massive change in her life, surely, a total upending of the life she thought she would lead, an upending that continued to Pentecost to the Assumption (and on to Lourdes and Fatima).
The surprises weren’t for her alone, however. Apostles and disciples, saints and popes, and you and me—we’re all still learning from this child of hers.