09 May Thanking God for Mothers
This Sunday is Mother’s Day. If you reside in the United States, you practically have to live under a rock not to know this. Florists are in high gear, restaurants will be in “all hands on deck” mode, and I can only imagine what the online retail traffic is like this week. The procrastinators among us are counting their blessings for next-day delivery!
It is good and right that we honor our mothers. Some of us will be honoring the memory of our moms, and if the death of a mother is recent, this may be a particularly difficult weekend. Even if the loss is not chronologically recent, Mother’s Day can be a source of sadness or grief, as memories flood over us. Losing a parent is never something we “get over.” We learn to live with the hole in our heart, and with time the pain of loss is less acute. But the loss is always there.
Not everyone, of course, has or had a good relationship with their mother, and for those who share this experience, Mother’s Day can be problematic, even traumatic, for a whole different set of reasons. There is no “one size fits all” solution to this tragedy, no magic wand that can be waved to make right things that are terribly wrong. No one’s suffering due to neglect or abuse by a parent should ever be minimized. Nor should we feel shame or guilt when sound judgment, good boundaries, and emotional health necessitate that contact with a parent be limited. Having said that, part of the path to healing often includes learning to be grateful for the gifts we did receive from a difficult home situation, however small they may seem: life, basic necessities, learning independence, a love of nature or sports or books, a dear pet or sibling. For those still healing from the wounds of a parental relationship that was not loving and nurturing, my prayer for you this week is that the hard work of forgiveness will open your heart to God’s love and acceptance of you, exactly as you are right now. You are seen, known, and cherished. Please don’t ever forget that.
Some of us were blessed to have a mother who communicated God’s love to us in thousands of ways, big and small: meals lovingly prepared and artfully served; explorations of the world undertaken with wonder and awe; encouragement to dream and pursue those dreams; discipline compassionately administered; values taught through example; prayers spoken on our behalf; opportunities opened; joy shared in quiet togetherness and boisterous interactions; confessions heard and mercy offered; hurts tended; cleanliness insisted upon! From my mother I learned things as varied as how to thump a watermelon for ripeness to how to stop a pantyhose snag with clear nail polish to how to practice a piano scale. We shared—and still share—a love of shoe shopping, desserts, and gardening while sharing a common abhorrence for camping, laziness, and anise flavoring in anything.
Mothering is hard, often thankless work, and for those who are in the throes of mothering “littles,” “tweeners,” or teenagers, let me encourage you to keep at it. Keep loving your children with as much grace as you can muster on a daily basis. They won’t remember or care if dinner consists of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches three days in a row. What forms their character is that you encourage them, provide for their basic needs, listen to them (some great conversations happen in the car!), and love them in both word and action. When you believe in them, they learn to believe in themselves, and when you love them, they learn to trust that they are worthy to receive love as well as that they have the resources to give it. Women, what precious gifts have been entrusted to us! And you are a gift to your children.
So, enjoy your special day whether you are feted at a fancy restaurant or have syrupy, sticky fingers bringing you breakfast in bed, whether you will be with your mom or children in person, or remembering those gone, or sending or receiving greetings across the country or around the world. Let us thank God for our mothers!
Happy Mother’s Day!