The Perfect Mother
      by Charlotte Volnek

I fought back tears as I shut the bedroom door behind me…actually shutting it a lot harder than any rational adult should have.  Through clenched teeth, my anger snapped at the walls.  “What was I ever thinking when I said I wanted to have children. I should have listened to my mother and raised flowers instead.”

It had been a trying week. Everything seemed so messed up. The kids wouldn’t listen. All we did was fight. The littlest thing would turn into a mountain of confrontation.

Yes, raising flowers would have been much, much easier. 

I stormed through my room to the bathroom, frustration balling my fingers into fists. I turned on the water and slipped into the tub. Within seconds, my heated emotions wilted into depression. What had I done so wrong? Why couldn’t I be the one in control? I was the mother after all. Why couldn’t I be the perfect mom?

For several days my emotions see-sawed  back and forth. I grumbled in my prayers, demanding God to force my children into submission, and blaming him when they didn’t.  Why didn’t He care? Why didn’t He answer my prayers? I felt alone and abandoned.

More days passed. Finally in desperation, I picked up my rosary and sat down contemplating the prayers to the Virgin Mary. Maybe she would listen to me and make my children succumb.

Hail Mary, full of grace.

Yeah, Mary had it easy. She had the perfect son. My kids were anything but perfect.

The Lord is with thee.

And Jesus listened to her. He turned the water into wine at her suggestion after all. Sure he argued a little, but he still did it.

Blessed art thou among women…

See, everyone knew she was perfect.

And blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.

Yes, Mary was a great mother. She took care of her family. She was always in control. Why couldn’t I be more like her? What was I doing wrong?

My thoughts tumbled as the images of Mary and Jesus (from the many movies I’d watched) flashed through my mind...Jesus as a baby, sleeping soundly in his mother’s arms, a glorious radiance surrounding them. Mary caring for a young boy Jesus, and worrying over his straying from the family to spend time in the temple. Jesus as a man, teaching to the masses. Mary was always there, an ever present fixture of motherhood.

The images flashed faster, to the last day of Jesus’ life. My breath quickened. I felt the horror and dismay as Mary watched Jesus being led before the priests, to be accused and scorned. She watched silently as the crowds cursed and spit at him. How she must have trembled as they scourged him, beating his body bloody and ripping his flesh.

When Mary met Jesus in the streets of Jerusalem, the cross heavy upon his shoulders, he told her he ‘was making all things new.’ And all she could do was follow him. Follow him up to Calvary where the soldiers nailed him to a cross and raised him to hang like a criminal. She watched as her son struggled for breath. She wept as he cried out to God and then gave up his spirit…to die for sinners…like me.

The realization hit me hard. Mary, the perfect mother, wasn’t always in control. What must have been going through her mind as she watched her son, our Lord, suffer and die? Why didn’t she argue with Jesus, or beg him to save himself from this torture. We know he could have…but she didn’t even ask. Why didn’t she curse God as they lay the precious body in her arms? Instead of cursing, blaming, begging or pleading, she remained steadfast and surrendered her control to God’s infinite plan. She placed her trust in His ultimate wisdom.

I bowed my head, remorse flooding my face with tears, the reality of my human weakness bearing heavy on my heart. I closed my eyes and began to pray, begging for forgiveness for my pride and arrogance. In the silence, two arms embraced me from behind, squeezing my neck tenderly. I touched my daughter’s arm, love swelling within. Yes, despite all the trials, I loved my family with all my heart. And they loved me. They were not perfect, but I was far from being the perfect mother I so wanted to be. Yet, I would do anything for my family, guiding them and protecting them the best I could…and when I couldn’t…when things balanced beyond my human dominion …it is then I needed to take the powerful lesson from Mary and offer them up to God, surrendering my control and placing them in His ever-knowing hands. 

I whispered a grateful prayer to Mother Mary, for being the perfect example of Motherhood, reminding me to always go to God in faith and trust, placing my family in the care of His love and wisdom.

Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death.

I wish a most Happy and Joyous Mother’s Day to all mothers. You have been given a most precious vocation; to care for and love God’s children!

Greetings and welcome. My name is Charlotte "Charlie" Volnek and I am a Cracked Pot. Each time I read the legend of The Cracked Pot (the complete story is on the home page) I can't help but see myself in the story. It is a reminder to me… I have so many flaws and blemishes. But, with the Lord's gracious hand to guide me and mold me, he can take my pitiful shortcomings and create goodness. 

In my Lenten journey this year, I was determined to create a blog of short stories to encourage and inspire, stories of truth and humility. With Holy Week beginning on Sunday, I am taking my first step to create this blog. I pray the words I share might enhance your Christian faith as we give all praise and glory to our Lord Jesus Christ . 

And so, without further ado, here is my first installment of Reflections of a Cracked Pot...

I Got One!

By Charlotte “Charlie” Volnek

I nestled a little closer to my husband, reaching for his hand as I proudly watched our young daughter singing in the church youth choir. With a quick wave she smiled and joined her fellow students in song. I gazed from the girls and boys, all dressed up in their Easter best, to the sparkling white lilies dressing the altar. I breathed deeply, the smell of spring permeating the air.   

The church was full. Not an empty seat seemed to be found from the looks of it.  I nudged my mother and pointed to the priest stepping down from the altar.  “Watch this,” I whispered. “I love what Father does here.”

The priest walked down from his chair and stood at the base of the steps, a simple brown wicker basket in his hands. A little girl walked up shyly and dropped a handful of coins in the basket. Father smiled and nodded. The small voices of the choir drifted sweetly as other children moved to give their offerings...another girl, a little boy, a brother and sister. One couldn’t help but smile at all the children, giving to the church not just money, but the joy of their precious youth.

A small, blonde-haired boy crept up the side aisle. I noticed him only because he moved slower than the other children...quietly...stealthily...inching closer and closer to the priest. He lifted his hand to the basket and in an instant, snatched out a dollar bill. “I got one! I got one!” he squealed happily as he spun around and raced back down the aisle. 

From the back of the church I could hear a father groan and try his best to shuffle to the end of the pew as quietly as possible. But it was too late to stop the boy. The priest grinned as snickers surged through the church. Fathers tilted their heads and laughed. Mothers gasped, then chuckled along with the men. The choir almost halted as the students tried to stifle their giggles, turning from one to another and pointing. 

I laughed out loud, enjoying the joy and happiness radiating through the worshipers. Did that little boy realize what he had just invoked with this one simple phrase, “I got one!” Could anything have created such delight today? I beamed throughout the homily, so much joy filling my soul, the presence of my Lord surrounding me in His loving embrace.

But I’m ashamed to say, I had not always felt so close to the Lord. Many years I wandered. Too long, I let the world lead me, stealing my time for our precious Jesus. Not that I didn’t believe, I just didn’t trust the Lord to make my decisions for me. I didn’t need him. After all, he gave me free will to do what I wanted…right?

In time, and with great humiliation, I became painfully aware of how wrong I was. I was floundering in the sins of the world and I needed Him. I loved Him. I wanted Him. And luckily for me, our Lord is ever faithful and patient. I fell on bended knees, a sorrowful sinner, and relinquished my life, once again, back to Christ. 

Back in my seat, I listened to the cherub voices of our young choir. I smiled as I envisioned a similar service, only this one in heaven, before our Lord God. A multitude of angels and saints gathered in His glory and honor, their brilliance filling the temple. A hush filled the gleaming room as the heavenly beings bowed their heads in worship of our Master. Suddenly, an angel...my angel...was running down the aisle after witnessing me on my knees that day.  

“I got one! I got one!” she yelled in triumph.

All the angels and saints rejoiced with shouts of Alleluia and songs of praise as my heavenly Father smiled happily and nodded knowingly. He knew me. He had waited for me. Through his generous and patient love, he had allowed me to come home to him again. 

The youth choir finished their song of praise and beamed with pride. I leaned back in my pew, God’s love and promise surrounding me. I was at peace. 
The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
The LORD make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The LORD lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
(Numbers 6:25-27)