It was cold and clear. I was pregnant-to-bursting, wearing a shiny red shirt that looked festive but wasn’t warm.
Our parish was having a rare midnight Mass in honor of the January 1 feast of Mary, Mother of God, and I wasn’t missing it. My husband, perhaps knowing better than to argue with me, agreed.
I was lector that night, and though there was not the fanfare of the Christmas midnight Mass, it was still a challenge not to start sobbing. I found myself overcome.
I wrote it off as a combination of pregnancy hormones and my usual penchant for being overcome at Mass.
A few hours later, I woke up to go to the bathroom. There was nothing unusual about this, until I noticed the dripping.
He groaned. He rolled over. He snored and didn’t respond.
He sat up, but he wasn’t happy about it.
“I think my water broke.”
That got his attention.
But lacking a pool of liquid, he wasn’t convinced. I wasn’t sure if I was feeling contractions or dinner, so we just went back to sleep.
I’ll spare you the play-by-play, but six hours later, well into the morning of January 1, we were getting to know our first child, the daughter who was born on Mary’s feast.
That daughter turns eight this year, and she knows there’s something special about her birthday. It marks a new year, for one thing, and is a national holiday. The whole world seems to be celebrating, and there’s no shortage of parties.
We go to Mass to celebrate her birthday, and that’s special too.
But, for me, the most special aspect of her birthday is being linked to Mary in such an intimate way. For me, my daughter’s birthday is a reminder that even I can be a mother. It’s a cheer from my heavenly mother, encouragement of the strongest kind.
“You can do it, Sarah,” I imagine her saying to me. “Even though you never thought you could, you can.”
She smiles at me, and we admire the baby-turned-preschooler. She turns back and looks over her shoulder, and I follow her gaze.
There He is, and I smile wider.
Once again, Mary has led me to her Son.
I can only say thank you, this year and every year, as I try my best to imitate her “Yes.”
This “Finding Faith in Everyday Life” column originally appeared in The Catholic Times.