Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Reflection on Mother's Day

Each year, Americans celebrate their moms...and I admit it, it's one of my least favorite holidays.  Yes, I had a mom, a good one even. And yes, I AM a mom... so what's not to like? I'll tell you.

Personally, I spent the first 15-20 years of motherhood feeling bad on Mother's Day. The day began by getting all the kids up, dressed in reasonably decent fashion, and out the door to church. Keep in mind there's a time limit to this because we couldn't be late. All the images of sweetness and joy, with the mom humming and smiling as her precious children cooperated and hugged her are nothing more than imagination. It's more a matter of looking for missing favorite socks, discussions of why you can not wear that shirt, and a mad rush to the door. There may be tears, and I wouldn't rule out a few glares.

Then there's the church service.. Some pastors felt that was the time to lift up motherhood by giving us examples of fine women in the Bible. They were perfect of course and thinking of my day so far, and indeed, many days, I knew I'd never measure up. It wasn't until years later that it occurred to me that we only heard of the one incident usually, and the Bible didn't share what the rest of their year was helped me to realize that.  Some churches gave prizes to the women with the most kids, the one with the kid that had traveled the longest to visit them, etc. It'd always be the same women every year and I felt that was grossly unfair - if there's a woman in your church with 9 kids, she's going to win every year. "And what difference does it make?" I'd ask myself. It didn't mean you were a better mom.

As time went on, and I grew to dread the day, I thought of how it must be for the non-moms in the congregation.  Were some of them childless by choice and saw that as a day to celebrate their freedoms? Rarely, if ever. More likely, they were reminded that they were childless and I always figured that wasn't their plan. I knew of women who would have given anything to have a child yet couldn't. This was a yearly reminder of their lack of children.  There were women that had lost their children - a grief worse than any other.  It's a day to not only be remembered if you are a mom, but to remember your own mother. For some, that brought bitterness if they had bad mothers. For many, it brought sadness as they missed their mothers. Others saw it as a day of burden, a day they had to go see mom even if they'd rather do something else.

After the church service, the annual "you're a bad mom because you fussed at your child to get out of bed and get moving this morning, and you'll never be as kind and patient as the featured example in the sermon" day, we went home. The majority of times it meant I had to cook, clean, and there would be little mention of my "special day." There were a few years that my husband and/or kids cooked, but not often, and I still had to plan it. We never went to restaurants because in addition to the Sunday crowds, there would be the "take mom out to lunch" crowds. All together, a pretty dumb day... truthfully, it'd generally be a good day any other week. But after lunch, people did their own thing and I thought to myself, "Well, this is dumb." I resented the normalness of the day in our household, knowing others were treated as royalty.

Truthfully, Mother's Day shouldn't just be about the actual mother in your life, but about all the women that nurture you. They love and support you, serving as a shoulder when needed and a giver of hugs. Perhaps you live near your mom and that doesn't seem necessary. But for many of us living away from home, or for those of us without a mom, that might not be the case. There were many women that were like moms to me at different stages of my life.  Many "moms" aren't the only mom in a person's life. There are women that nurture others - Sunday School teachers, neighbors, aunts, special teachers, and just friends.
On Mother's Day, I can now look back on the day and be grateful for the chance I had to be a mother. At the same time, I am reminded of my own mom and what a special woman she was. She died 13 years ago, after a long illness.There have been many times when I'd think how much she'd love seeing what our kids or grandkids are doing.

Today, please remember ALL the women that nurture you - the special people that altogether have made you the person that you are, if they are your mom or not. I think about the special people that made me a mother - my children, and pray for them as they handle life day to day. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

National Day of Prayer

" Let us come together to pray for peace and goodwill today and in the days ahead as we work to meet the great challenges of our time."  Barack Obama

Today is the National Day of Prayer, a day not sponsored or owned by any group. It belongs to ALL Americans, regardless of their faith. Each year, the president signs a proclamation officially designating the day. Freedom of religion has been a part of our country from the beginning, and in 1952, it was established as an annual event by a joint resolution of Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman.

 As Americans, we rejoice in this freedom, acknowledging that people of all faiths, have the same rights and freedoms to worship in accordance with their beliefs. We have the right to worship as we please, but can only speak for ourselves. Sadly, too many refuse to give others the same freedom they insist on for themselves. Our constitution forbids the government from endorsing one religion over another, or to insist on religion at all. There are more people that claim no religion than those actively practicing one. Days like today were designed to include everyone that wishes to participate.

A Proclamation
Americans have long turned to prayer both in times of joy and times of sorrow. On their voyage to the New World, the earliest settlers prayed that they would “rejoice together, mourn together, labor, and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work.” From that day forward, Americans have prayed as a means of uniting, guiding, and healing. In times of hardship and tragedy, and in periods of peace and prosperity, prayer has provided reassurance, sustenance, and affirmation of common purpose.

Prayer brings communities together and can be a wellspring of strength and support. In the aftermath of senseless acts of violence, the prayers of countless Americans signal to grieving families and a suffering community that they are not alone. Their pain is a shared pain, and their hope a shared hope. Regardless of religion or creed, Americans reflect on the sacredness of life and express their sympathy for the wounded, offering comfort and holding up a light in an hour of darkness.

All of us have the freedom to pray and exercise our faiths openly. Our laws protect these God-given liberties, and rightly so. Today and every day, prayers will be offered in houses of worship, at community gatherings, in our homes, and in neighborhoods all across our country. Let us give thanks for the freedom to practice our faith as we see fit, whether individually or in fellowship.

On this day, let us remember in our thoughts and prayers all those affected by recent events, such as the Boston Marathon bombings, the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, and the explosion in West, Texas. Let us pray for the police officers, firefighters, and other first responders who put themselves in harm’s way to protect their fellow Americans. Let us also pray for the safety of our brave men and women in uniform and their families who serve and sacrifice for our country. Let us come together to pray for peace and goodwill today and in the days ahead as we work to meet the great challenges of our time.

The Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a “National Day of Prayer.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2, 2013, as a National Day of Prayer. I join the citizens of our Nation in giving thanks, in accordance with our own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and in asking for God’s continued guidance, mercy, and protection.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.