The feminine vulnerability of motherhood...
Joseph her husband, being a righteous man... (Matthew 1:20a)
This Christmas, let's remember motherhood is utter vulnerability. The Virgin Mary was quite young when she became pregnant--likely thirteen or fourteen. When her belly swelled it was scandalous. Her beloved Joseph would have quietly divorced her had not the angel of the Lord reassured him that Mary was still a virgin and her pregnancy was of the Holy Spirit.
Trying to imagine the turmoil Mary's motherhood caused in ancient Palestine, we could bring it into our own day and ask how long it was before her pregnancy was obvious enough that everyone knew? And once they knew, did Mary's evident shame cause her loved ones to leave off the normal support given a young bride and young mother? Did anyone give Mary a shower? If so, was it a wedding or baby shower? Did Mary tell everyone she was going to have a boy?
How did Mary's father and mother respond?
"But Mary's different," you might say. "The circumstances of her pregnancy and childbirth robbed her of the normal supports mothers enjoy."
Well actually, not all of them. Look at Joseph and think what a blessing he was to Mary as she carried and bore and nursed her Son. From the moment of the angel's appearance, Joseph stood with Mary. He did not divorce her as he'd planned, but took her as his wife.
Mary was not a single mother. She had a Godly husband who shared the vulnerability and dangers of her motherhood--including the life-and-death dangers of childbearing itself, but also Herod's murderous designs on her baby son.
Men, this Christmas season let's follow Joseph's example by honoring the mothers of our children. Instead of turning away from them in embarrassment as they bear and nurse and clean and burp our offspring, let's declare our pride in them precisely at the moment of their greatest femininity, and weakness. True men act in solidarity with their wives, not being ashamed of any aspect of their wife's maternal vulnerability. True men live with their wives in an understanding way, loving the mother of their children as Joseph loved the Mother of our Lord.