originally published in Abilene Families
(originally written May, 2006)
As a mother, you
would think that I would be all about Mother’s Day – a day just for ME, a
day to get, get, get, and a day when praise is lavished on all mothers.
Who could ask for anything more? Truthfully, mother’s day –
especially the Hallmark version of it – makes me very uncomfortable.
You know which kind of image I’m talking about – a young mother, clad in
a pristine white gown in an immaculate, beautifully decorated home,
holding a perfectly chubby, cooing baby as they gaze into each other’s
The poetry accompanying the image details the sacrifices the
loving mother makes and how wonderful she is and on and on and on. I
simply can’t relate: My home has never been immaculate OR decorated, I
learned a long time ago not to wear white while holding a child of any
age, and I regret how much time I didn’t spend gazing at my babies
before they transformed into galloping toddlers, now pre-teens.
words are what make me squirm the most. Mothers are not defined by the
Hallmark moments, but by the horrible moments. Anybody loves to play
with a giggling baby or rambunctious toddler, but it’s mom who cleans up
when potty-training is not quite successful. It’s mom wiping heads and
doing laundry and providing a clean basin when the stomach virus tears
through the house at 3 a.m.
It’s mom holding constant vigil at a
hospital bedside or waiting room. It’s mom lifting, feeding, bathing,
and caring for a handicapped child day in and day out. It’s mom wearing
a trough in the carpet next to her bed as she kneels for a child who
has lost their way or is fighting in harm’s way or whose heart is broken
beyond repair. I don’t know of any woman who would ask to be put in
any of those situations, but those are the moments that define
motherhood. We don’t want praise or pretty words about things we do
that we would rather not do. It’s just what we do. It’s being a mom.
these flowery thoughts and sentiments make me somewhat uncomfortable,
they can be downright painful for many people. Mothers who must wait
until they get to heaven to hug their child again, mothers who
selflessly blessed an adoptive family with their own baby, mothers whose
only children are really nieces, nephews, and friends since life has
not brought her children of her own and countless other situations can
bring pain and disappointment to this day of celebration.
you think of the women you know that you would consider “extraordinary
mothers”, they are probably women making it just one day at a time in
extraordinary situations. You probably don’t call to mind a mom of two
healthy children with a healthy spouse still living in the home. You
probably don’t think of someone like, well, me. The extraordinary
mothers we know may have many children raising them all to be successful
individuals, may have handicapped or chronically ill children, may have
lost a child, or may go to great lengths for her children to have
normalcy in the midst of difficult life circumstances. Few of these
women would want the accolades or flowery words of a Hallmark
commercial. They are simply putting one foot in front of the other
because another being in this life depends on it. It’s just what we do.
It’s being a mom.
I can’t speak for all moms, but as
much as I love words, I don’t want to hear many about what kind of mom I
am on Mother’s Day. For me, it simply reminds me of all the places I
fall short or what a bad attitude I occasionally have while doing what I
do – being a mom. Oh, sure, I won’t turn down any gifts – diamonds are
my favorite, sapphire is my birthstone, and if you’re buying a ring
remember that my fingers are crazy skinny – but if you need to use any
words, a simple, “Thanks for what you do” will suffice, and I wouldn’t
mind hearing that once a week. Not saying, “But I don’t want to” when
asked to do your job would be nice, because I rarely want to cook your
dinner or fold your clothes, but it’s what I do. It’s being a mom.
And, most of all, just grow up to make your momma proud.
in the past year, my children have been acquainted with several
children who have lost a parent to death. Knowing that anything can
happen, I have been reminded at those times to let my children know what
I want most for them out of life. At one point we were driving and
discussing a child who had lost a parent and how hard that would be. I
said, “If anything ever happens to me, first I want you to know how much
I love you. And all I want for you in life is to love the Lord and to
marry someone who loves the Lord.”
This brought a know-it-all nod from one child who said in a satisfied tone, “I knew you were going to say that.”
Very well, then. Carry on. That’s all I need to know for a happy Mother’s Day!