As a parent of three kids aged 8, 15 and 17 in the family, I’m learning that the hardest thing about parenting is accepting that this child does not belong to me. During those first days of wonder when you sit for hours and gaze at your baby it’s easy to tell yourself this person belongs to you. But having responsibility for something is very different to ownership. It’s so hard to accept that the little boy whose nose you wiped and who tried to fly by drinking a “potion” made of baby powder mixed in water, has his own opinions, thoughts, dreams, issues and plans that have nothing to do with you. I know we’re supposed not to cry because it’s over, but smile because it happened in situations like this but I find myself doing rather a lot of both. And that’s ok.
But I wonder – did Mary ever feel Jesus was really God when he was young? She must have picked him up when he fell, wiped his tears or shouted at him for using the last of the milk (or the historical equivalent) he must have seemed so utterly human. And when she was pregnant – she knew she was going to give birth to the Son of God, Emmanuel. How utterly terrifying. Having a baby is pretty scary at the best of times but at least we can tell ourselves “well, it’s not like women haven’t been doing this forever”. Mary couldn’t tell herself that. No one had ever done this before – she must have wondered if he would arrive just as a normal baby or whether it would be something like opening a matchbox and finding a full grown blue whale inside. I feel for Mary – the world has a lot of expectations of mothers. And we do for ourselves. I’m not sure she could have always felt “most highly favoured”.