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A Sister of Providence mom reflects on Mother’s Day

Blog-post author Sister Mary Tomlinson with her son Mark at a recent wedding. (photo © Artlynn Photography)

Blog-post author Sister Mary Tomlinson with her son Mark at a recent wedding. (photo © Artlynn Photography)

I have always believed the greatest “yes” of all time came from a 14-year-old girl long ago. Mary was visited by an angel telling her she would become a mother, have a son and she would call him Jesus.

Through the centuries, women have said yes millions of times over. No matter how many children a mother has, she says yes, over and over again with each child. When a young woman becomes pregnant, there is much work to do — a nursery to be prepared, a new stroller, and a new car seat to be purchased. And a supply of diapers, baby bottles and so much more. Most women are blessed with a baby shower where many of the things she will need are given to her. But none of it will compare with the power of her yes, once her child is born.

I said yes in 1968 when I was pregnant with my son, Mark. I was 21 and totally unprepared to face what was to come. My feeling of love for Mark came in an instant when they put him in my arms. I never knew I had so much love. It was powerful. I couldn’t stop looking at him. It was as if he was always there. His father and I could hardly remember a time when he wasn’t with us. I was in awe that God gave me this precious little gift that I was to care for and love no matter what was to come.

In those early days, it’s the sleeping that is very hard. Most babies have their days and nights mixed up. I learned to nap in the day, as there’d be little sleep once night came. I’m sure I was doing something wrong, as Mark didn’t sleep through the night until he was 4 years old. In today’s world, that’s almost an embarrassment. And then there were times when Mark wouldn’t eat. The doctor said, “He’ll eat when he’s hungry. Don’t worry.”

Much was to come. There were those toddler years. Mark was darling, but oh so defiant. It amazed me that his little personality was coming through that young. Then came T-ball, little league, kid’s football and Mark was on the wrestling and golf teams in high school. There’s that first trip to the emergency room. For Mark, it was a broken arm. He was proud of his cast. Yes, mothers become chauffeurs and cheerleaders.

He didn’t do so well in school until he was a junior. He finally figured out that he couldn’t go to college with his poor grades. He came home one night after attending a college night at school. He announced that he was going to Illinois State University, would major in marketing and finish in four years. He turned himself around, and that’s exactly what he did.

They say that the issues get harder the older they get. It’s true. There was the call from the fourth-grade teacher, a call from the assistant principal and those report cards with poor grades. The teenage years are very hard. But the bond and the love deepened.

As Mark grew to adulthood, I found a brand new relationship with him. When he was a young adult, I learned quickly that my opinion or guidance was not always considered, usually ignored. Mark is 47 today. Our relationship as adults is different and has become very strong. Now he frequently asks for my opinion.

Throughout these 47 years, I have loved him unconditionally. I’ve seen him through the good times and the difficult times. Today, I still hold his hand when he’s down. I put my arms around him when he is sad. No matter what he experiences, I love and cherish him, just like that October day 47 years ago. It’s an honor to be Mark’s mother.

Happy Mother’s Day!

(Read more about Sister Mary Tomlinson and her life as a Sister of Providence and a mother, including a video of how she told her college-age son she wanted to be a sister, here.)

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Sister Mary Tomlinson

Sister Mary Tomlinson has been a Sister of Providence for 30 years. She is currently retired and ministers doing freelance grant writing work. Sister Mary works from a home base in the Chicago area where she lives near her son and his family, including her four granddaughters.

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  1. Denise on May 6, 2016 at 8:28 am

    Well, my friend, your reflection is such a reflection of you. Your love of Mark, of the God of Providence holding us in our every day joys and sorrows… these shine brightly in your words. Love!

    • Mary Tomlinson on May 7, 2016 at 2:32 pm

      Thanks, Denise for your nice words and affirmation. No matter the joyous and hard stuff, the God of Providence does find a way to see us through.

      Now that I’ve done it once, I may try my hand at another blog post.

      See you soon. Love, Mary

  2. Margie on May 6, 2016 at 9:42 am

    Well said! Thanks for sharing!

    • Mary Tomlinson on May 7, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      Thanks, Margie. I’m glad you like it. I suspect you can identify with many of the things. Love, Mary

  3. Mary Ryan on May 6, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful reflection on motherhood!


    • Mary Tomlinson on May 7, 2016 at 2:35 pm

      Mary. Thanks for your affirmation. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Hope all is well with you. Enjoy these Spring days. Love, Mary

  4. Editha Ben on May 8, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Mary,thanks for your sharing your reflection on your gift of motherhood . I love the way you wrote it.
    I’m so proud of you. Love, Editha

  5. Lynn on May 9, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Mary, that was lovely! Your beautiful sentiment is most touching and profound! Hugs!

    • Mary Tomlinson on May 10, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      Thanks, Lynn. I appreciate your kind sentiments. Be well and have a good week. Love, Mary

  6. Marilyn Kofler on May 10, 2020 at 1:48 pm

    Happy Mother’s Day, Mary!!! It is May 10, 2020, and I have just now come across your beautiful testimony of love and how God has touched your life through the great gift of your son, Mark. May you, Mark, and your grandchildren always treasure the gift of life and deep love that has graced your lives!

    Love, Marilyn

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