“The first joy of a child is the knowledge that it is loved.” ~Don Bosco
A dear friend of mine – we’ll call her Rose – is a true humanitarian. Whether she’s serving her patients as a pediatric resident or volunteering with the Missionaries of Charity in India, Rose is someone who constantly looks outside of herself at the needs of those around her.
Although she’s not yet a biological mother, she has been a mom to countless orphans during several month-long volunteer trips. She has given these abandoned children the knowledge that they are loved, if not by their biological families or the society that has often discarded them as “damaged goods” because their bodies or minds or both are weak, then by God. Rose believes God is love and she shows her love for him by loving and serving others.
Rose shared with me this touching story after her most recent trip to India this past April:
During Rose’s first volunteer experience with the Missionaries of Charity, she encountered a little girl in the orphanage who was obstinate and prone to emotional outbursts. She suffered physically and had some kind of syndrome, much like dwarfism, that left her with some distorted features. She was behind developmentally as well and was not an overly affectionate child. She was, even in orphanage standards in India, one of the poorest of the poor. Perhaps that’s why Rose, ever one to live the Beatitudes, had a special fondness for the child.
Rose was eager to see her little friend again this April. However, she was not prepared for what she saw. The very same child, who just over a year ago had a penchant for fits of temper, now was poised and polite. She listened and asked instead of whined or screamed. Her physical body was still weak; she still suffered developmental delays, but her spirit had been strengthened.
Rose later asked a Sister if anything had happened to cause such a dramatic transformation. The Sister explained that the child’s best friend was adopted, causing her much heartache, not only because she had lost a friend but because she, too, hoped to be adopted.
“I want a mommy! I want a mommy now! Now! Now!” she wailed. To which another child quipped, “No one’s ever going to adopt you. No one wants a child who acts like you do.”
The child became quiet and since then, she no longer exhibits explosive emotions. Her fits have been quelled. She is obedient, affectionate, and giving. Her greatest desire now, it seems, is to please others.
And why? Because above all things, she wants a mother. She yearns for a mother so much that she has willed herself to be more aware of others, to not give in to her impulses and to be the kind of child she thinks a mother would want. That’s how much a mom would mean to this child.
This story is heartbreaking to me for many reasons. It makes me ache for all children who are abandoned. It makes me wonder and pray even more than I have in the past about adoption (my husband and I have discussed the possibility of adopting a child before). It makes me overwhelmingly grateful for my own mom, who gave me the first joy Don Bosco refers to by making sure with her whole heart and her entire life that I felt loved. It makes me implore our Blessed Mother to watch over all of the orphans of the world and anyone who has been deprived of love and protection. It makes me realize just how important I really am to my own children even when I’m feeling sorry for myself and see myself as nothing more than a walking and talking Laundromat, a short-order cook, a maid, a playmate to be bossed around, or a depository for unwarranted complaints. I am their mom. I am the one God has given the awesome responsibility of granting them their first joy in life – of showing them that they are unconditionally loved and in doing so, the one who helps reveal God’s love to them.
Since Rose told me this story, I’ve found myself often praying for that little orphan. I pray she knows that even when she feels unloved, even if she never finds a mom (or a mom never finds her), that she is loved. Not only by God and his own mother but by me, some other children’s mom way over on the other side of the world who hasn’t stopped praying for her since I heard of the personal sacrifice she has made in the hopes of finding a mommy.
Scripture: “But to those who did accept him, he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name…” (John 1:12)
Spiritual Resolution: Pray a Rosary in honor of all orphaned and abandoned children, including the victims of abortion that they may come to know that they are children of God and will always have a mother in Mary.
Prayer: God, be for all your children what mothers cannot be. I ask what needs never to be asked: To love all of your children and to make your love to known to the ones who don’t have a mom to hold them, to plant kisses on their soft heads, to wipe away their tears, so that they will know that even when moms disappoint them or are not there at all, you are all they need.
I also pray for my own mom, who has loved God with all her heart by loving me. She has passed the holy torch of motherhood to me and I am ever grateful for this gift. Help me to to never take all she has done for me (and still does for me!) for granted. I am thankful, too, for my mother-in-law, who has been my like a second mom to me. Finally, I thank you for giving us the perfect model of motherhood in your own mom. Mary, Virgin Most Faithful and Comforter of the Afflicted, pray for your children. Amen.
May all you moms out there have a blessed Mother’s Day!