It is impossible for me to celebrate Christmas without carrying a large space in my heart for Mary. I've always loved that lady, but since I've been blessed with children, I really LOVE that lady! I mean, could you imagine?! I gave birth twice, to normal, every day miracles. Could you imagine going through that and then sitting there, jaws on the floor, looking at baby GOD? Yikes!
And let's not pretend like that stable was a peaceful, serene and holy place to be. I know darn well that the hours leading up to birth are SCARY and FRANTIC and I don't care how holy you are or how many angels you've seen. I'm willing to bet that Mary was PISSED that she wound up in a stable. In the middle of both of my labors, I cried out, "This is stupid! I don't want to do this anymore!" I bet Mary was all, "Are you KIDDING ME, JOSEPH? Was this the BEST YOU COULD DO?! I'm not doing this here! This is stupid! I don't want to do this anymore!" It probably smelled in there. I would hate to give birth next to a cow. In fact, I would refuse to, but I'm not the Mother of God.
I've also been thinking lately that maybe there were other people there. Bethlehem was packed. I bet there were poor people who couldn't afford to stay in the inns, also some latecomers who procrastinated (I'm looking at YOU Joseph, you need a travel agent!) and probably some backpacking college kids who think they can just show up in a town and find a place to stay. Dummies. Poor Mary. What a way to start motherhood.
All of this is to say, I lean very heavily on Miss Mary when times get tough. When my children are shrieking and clawing at my face and using cuss words and acting like total pills. Also, I lean on Her when things are peaceful. I look at my babies' sleeping faces and tiny toes. I swipe hair out of their eyes and watch the corners of their mouths turn upward. I kneel in awe at the altar of parenthood and think about Mary. What must it have been like to raise a three year old baby Jesus? What did he say to her? Was he well behaved or was he a total pill sometimes? Did she count down the minutes to bedtime so she could have a glass of wine in peace? I know the girl loved wine because she's the one who made Jesus spike the water at Cana. I think she was a regular mom with a regular kid, except every once in a while she probably had those kneeling at the altar moments, just like I do. She probably watched Jesus sleeping and suddenly remembered, "Oh my gosh. My child is God. I am so blessed!"
Or maybe not. Maybe the Nativity was as serene and holy and perfect as we make it out to be. Maybe Jesus was always a perfect child and she was always a perfect Mom. Maybe he never gave her any trouble and maybe they cherished every moment they had together, like a perfect Norman Rockwell painting. But I really don't think so. I like my story better.