This is a guest post by Patti Franz.

The Holy Family with Elizabeth and John the Baptist – Artist: Andrea Mantegna

Perhaps the blessing to Elizabeth of conceiving a child at such a late age was that she brought to her parenting a wisdom that was unavailable to her in her youth. Maybe that’s why Mary rushed to her cousin with the news of their shared joy.

As an older mother, Elizabeth would not feel the need to sign John up for the 3-year-old Little Tykes soccer team. She would be comfortable declining an invitation to bring 5-year-old John to high tea at the Biltmore Hotel. When 10-year-old John’s friends abandoned him for an edgier crowd, she would not feel the need to get him a puppy to distract him from his sadness. I’m guessing Elizabeth never felt the need to throw John an over-the-top surprise party when he turned 16.

As my own children make their way into adulthood, I second-guess myself when they meet an obstacle. Did I over-mother them? Did I teach them courage? Humility? Grace in the face of failure? I think about how Elizabeth might have felt when John took off to become an itinerant preacher. How did she handle his extreme behavior? Did she bite her tongue when she saw his wild, uncut hair or his diet of weeds and crickets? I’m guessing she didn’t burn up the phone lines with her sisters or Mary, over-analyzing his choice of vocation.

At Advent, we revere Mary and her “yes” to the world. But I find myself drawn to Elizabeth, the older, wiser cousin who spent her life longing for a child and who waited on God’s promise. I like to imagine that, when blessed with the gift of motherhood, Elizabeth also offered her own “thy will be done.” Isn’t this every mother’s prayer?

Patti Franz holds a masters degree in theology from the University of San Francisco and currently serves on the board of the National Association of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. She worked for ten years at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona and is now a novice blogger.

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