The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
The Joy of Christ
Even the Holiest Parents
by Danielle Elliott
I could feel my mind start to drift as I sat in an empty pew with my little family listening to the priest’s homily: “While the parables throughout the Gospels depict our Lord in various roles, today’s reading presents Him as our Shepherd and we, His sheep.”
“Bahhh!”, our two-year-old daughter, Rebecca, gleefully said, thrilled to share her most recently learned animal sound.
I covered my mouth as I tried not to break into a fit of laughter. I looked around quickly to see if anyone had heard, but then I remembered that we had purposely chosen an empty pew because we have a very social toddler.
I dared a glance at my husband, Josh, whose face was scrunched up in a failed attempt to remain serious. He looked back at me and playfully swatted my arm. After almost a decade of being together, I knew what this meant:. If you don’t look away from me right now, I am going to start snort-laughing in the middle of this homily.
As we both regained our composure, I closed my eyes and smiled as I sent up a quick prayer. Thank you God for this small, adorable moment that only a child could bring about. I’m going to remember this one forever.
Before Rebecca was born, I was told so much about what I could expect once I became a mom. While most of these comments were positive ones that one would expect to hear, I was discouraged to find negative comments pretty heavily peppered in too:
Good thing you and Josh got all that traveling in when you did!
Rest up now—you won’t sleep in again until that baby is a teenager!
Enjoy those date nights with hubby while they last!
Being a parent requires sacrifice—plain and simple. I knew that at my core. But I also knew that with sacrifice comes joy.
It struck me as odd that people tended to focus so much on what was being “taken away” by becoming a mom, rather than the joy that was awaiting me.
(Side note: I’m happy to report that two years in, traveling, sleeping, and date nights are still very much parts of our lives. )
No one could have prepared me for the joyful moments with my daughter that would make me laugh, cry, and everything in between.
The first smile. The first coo. The first giggle. The first step. The first word.
Prayers before bed. Side altar visits after Mass.
Seeing Rebecca squeal each night as she hears “Dada” walking up our squeaky basement steps, eager to greet him.
First plane ride. First stroll down Main Street U.S.A.
Dance parties in the kitchen, swinging her in my arms. Belly laughs with each push on the swing.
These are the kinds of small joys that I know God had in mind when He designed the vocation of motherhood because they ground us and steady us in the moments when the sacrifices feel heavy.
In the fifth Joyful Mystery (the fruit of which is the joy of Christ) we get a glimpse of every parent’s worst nightmare: discovering their beloved child is gone and is nowhere to be found.
Whether you are a parent or not, I think we all can imagine the heavy emotions weighing on Mary and Joseph’s hearts as they looked for Jesus. I love that their humanity is illustrated in this way and that even the holiest parents ever known had parenting struggles!
I imagine, more deeply now than ever, the wave of relief that they must have felt upon finding Him. Similarly, I imagine the awe and childlike joy these parents felt watching their own child engrossed in learning about God, thanking Him for this small family moment.
I’m pretty certain that if Mary and Joseph were physically present in the pew next to us at Mass that Sunday, they would have been stifling their own laughter alongside us.
Danielle Elliott, a tea drinker, and avid traveler, resides in New Hampshire with her history-buff husband, Josh and spunk-filled daughter, Rebecca. She is a stay at home mom and a travel advisor with Marvelous Mouse Travels, specializing in family travel (offering complimentary planning services to her clients). When she isn’t logging steps on her FitBit by chasing around Becca or helping her clients plan their next vacation adventure, Danielle enjoys trying new recipes, dreaming up future home projects, and day tripping around New England with her little family.
You can find Danielle on Instagram at @danie.ell (personal account) and her business account @danielle.elliottmmt