Financial guru Dave Ramsey often talks about “powdered butt syndrome.” Once you’ve changed a kid’s diaper, he says, you aren’t interested in being lectured about sex or money by said kid–no matter how much of an expert they grow up to be.
I’d hazard a guess it’s not limited to sex and money, though. A parent spends so many years being the authority figure, it must be really hard to let your kids grow, and then let them go, to make their own decisions and, at length, to recognize that they know more than you do on some subject they’ve studied and you haven’t.
Maybe this is why most people are called to the vocation of marriage: because we need to become parents. Parenthood is a constant stretching of the soul, an unending lesson in humility. Who doesn’t need that?
I wonder if Mary had to deal with powdered butt syndrome. It seems almost inevitable, raising God Incarnate. But if she did, she handled it with tremendous grace.
Moms are used to serving, to fixing whatever’s wrong, to being hostess. It doesn’t matter if it’s someone else’s party: if a mother is there and realizes there’s a problem, she wants to do something to fix it.
So Mary goes to a wedding with her grown son and realizes the hosts are out of wine. This isn’t modern New York, where you can just run to the corner liquor store. I’d imagine the bride and groom were pretty much out of luck. Mary’s heart swells in empathy; she wants to fix it, but she’s helpless. So what does she do? She turns to her child, the baby who nursed at the breast and probably blew out a few diapers, who had diaper rash and teething crankiness and got into things, pulled down shelves in the name of exploration, the whole nine yards. (I am not one of those people who believes the child Jesus was exempt from normal little kid mischief. Being human means you have growing pains to get through, even if you are also God.)
Anyway, Mary is able to recognize that her child has far outpaced her in holiness. She turns to him and says, “Honey, they need help, and I can’t do it, but you can.”
I pray that as my children grow, I may be humble enough to admit when they know better than me. When they can do something I can’t. And to give way gracefully when that moment arrives.