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. 

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