11 May Mother’s Day & Mixed Emotions
This Sunday is Mother’s Day. I doubt it could have slipped your mind, as the greeting card companies and florists spend a lot of advertising dollars making sure we don’t forget it. But, just in case, consider yourself duly notified.
There are a lot of reasons Mother’s Day can be a stressful day. There are, of course, those people who are terrible at gift giving, and just the thought of having to order or select something special for Mom makes the blood pressure skyrocket. Some folks would love to honor their mothers on Sunday, but Mom is no longer living, so the day is a painful reminder of loss. Others have strained or difficult parental relationships with their moms which makes Mother’s Day an anxiety-ridden event. I usually don’t preach specifically about motherhood on the second Sunday in May because it is fraught with such peril. A preacher can blow herself up in so many different ways—why risk it? But, this year I am taking the plunge. If there is no blog next week, you’ll know it didn’t go so well….
For me, this Mother’s Day offers the opportunity to reflect on the women in my family. My maternal grandmother, at age 99, is going strong and is optimistic about making it to the “triple digit” mark. My mother, recently widowed, is having a new kind of Mother’s Day, but she is strong and resilient, and she is walking through this “valley of the shadow of death” with faith and hope, though a decent night’s sleep is still elusive.
I remember vividly the births of my two children, since it is because of them that “Mother” is part of my own calling. Both of them chose the 3:00 a.m. hour to arrive (thanks a million, kids!). But, on the upside, they didn’t dawdle about making their grand entrances (okay, seriously kids, thanks a million!). Nothing, and I do mean nothing, prepares a person for becoming a parent. There was a tsunami of emotions that swept over me that ranged from, “who is this little person?” to “this is the most beautiful baby ever” to “I didn’t know one human being could love another one this much.” (Later on, when I was less sleep deprived, my emotional rollercoaster would also swing from, “now what do I do?” to “now what have I done?!”) Mostly though, I was just in awe of getting to participate with God in a miracle. Even after 28 and 25 years with Emily and David, respectively, I’ve never lost that sense of total wonder at what a gift their lives are.
Families are the “learning labs” for life, and no two are alike. A lot of mistakes are made in labs, but as long as we don’t blow the place up, we have the chance to clean up our mess, learn what went wrong, make adjustments, and try again. I am so, so thankful that there is grace for mothers. I wanted to be a perfect parent. You can probably guess how that went. My unrealistic expectations of myself were replaced with the gentle and sure knowledge that admitting mistakes, saying, “I’m sorry,” asking for forgiveness and giving it, were crucial to growing as a family. Actually, those are crucial lessons for all of us to learn and practice, at any age, at any stage of life, in all of our relationships.
Scripture tells us to honor our parents, and that certainly isn’t limited to one overly-hyped, commercialized day a year. But, Sunday can be a good reminder to give thanks, to seek or grant forgiveness where it is needed, to express love, and to reflect on the many gifts that we receive from our families. Happy Mother’s Day!
Yours for the Kingdom,