This fall, Matthew is starting the little preschool catechism class at our church. Â It’s a fabulous program for tots — very hands-on, with kind and patient teachers. Â There are kid-sizedÂ chairs to sit on and fun projects to do.
Still, last week, he did not want me to leave. Â There were tears and little hands clinging to my leg and Â “Mommy,” uttered many times in a small heart-rending voice.
So for the first few minutes of class, I sat in the room with him in my lap. Â Later, when he had been cajoled into sitting with one of the teachers, I slipped out the door, feeling like the Benedict Arnold of mothers.
I walked over to the Mary grotto in the parking lot. Â It was a sunny, gorgeous fall day. Â The area around the grotto was like a burst of color; the gardening group works hard to keep it blooming. Â And I walked around the paving stones and looked at the flowers and touched Mary’s foot and thought about how hard, how amazingly hard, it is to be a mom sometimes. Â It’s brutal to leave your child, you know? Â That letting go … it’s necessary, but painful. The sight of that small crumpled face is like a dart to the heart.
Standing by the statue of Mary, I thought of the letting go that she had to do. Â Her situation was, shall we say, a bit more difficult than mine.Â She had to let her grown-up baby head out into the world to preach some pretty subversive stuff. Â He left her to go say a lot of very astonishing things, things that were going to anger the establishment, rub a lot of folks the wrong way, and consequently put himself in the path of danger. Â Mary was a smart cookie; she must have known all of this. Â But she let him go … probably with the feeling of a dart in her heart, too.Â How did she deal with it? Â Well, I’m guessing she took deep breaths, said lots of prayers, and reminded herself that she believed, deeply, in what he was about to do.
It did help me, standing there in the sun, to remember all of this.
And yes, Matthew did fine. According to the reports from the teacher, he had a few teary moments of “Where is my mommy?” but then was easily distracted. Â He was delighted to see me when I picked him up … and the feeling was mutual.
We’ll see what this Sunday is like. Â I’m hoping for the best.Â After I dropÂ my little boy off, I’ll take some deep breaths, say a few prayers, and think of Mary.
Because that always helps.