To those for whom Mother’s Day is painful

Something Worth Singing About

This is for those who for one reason or another, can’t wait for Mother’s Day to be over. I am not saying Mothers shouldn’t be honored, what I am saying is that Mothers everywhere, well good Mothers anyway, should be honored every single day. I also believe non-Mothers and those who wish to be Mothers, and those who may not have their own kids, but are Mothers to other Mother’s kids every single day should be honored every single day.

Don’t get me wrong. My own Mom made celebrating it easy, but I believe I am in the minority. My Grandmother, on the other hand, made my Mom dread Mother’s Day. Picking a card was always a nightmare. It’s all so complicated, this relationship we have right from the beginning. My Grandma lost a child and something makes me think that marked her for life. Maybe she felt that if she showed affection to her other kids that meant she was forgetting Annie.

Here is something you should never say to a woman who has not physically borne a child. “You don’t understand, you’ve never had children.” This is a barb that sinks deep, for it makes someone feel diminished, less than. It seeks to lift oneself over another, even if it’s unintentional. That very same woman you just wounded may just be the first to step out in front of a car for your child. That very same woman may have put herself in the path of physical jeopardy for the sake of saving a child, you just never know. I have seen women literally shrink, fold into themselves after comments such as these, I know, I have felt it myself.

This, of course, is not to minimize the importance of parenting. I believe it’s one of the hardest jobs anyone will ever do. Believe me, I believe good Moms and Dads are the hallmark of a healthy society. All of us single and childless people, divorced people, widowed people support you, we really do.

Last night, we were sitting around the fire and out of the blue Elaine looked at me pointedly and said,”I am not going to go to church tomorrow and watch all the Mothers be recognized and parade around like peacocks.” This will be her first Mother’s Day without her Mom.

To this I said jokingly, “Maybe they should have whips in the corners of the church for us non-Mothers who wish to self-flagellate.” Well, actually I got it wrong the first time, I said self-flatulate. We had a little laugh about that, after I explained the history of self-flagellation in the church.

Anyway, all this to say, be mindful and pray for all those who may be hurting this Mother’s Dad. And celebrate, yes……go out to lunch, make the most of you, let yourself be honored. I sent my Mom flowers and wish I could have seen her face when they came.

I will pray for all the Mothers (and Dads) out there, for your job is hard and it never really ends. I will also pray for those who prayed and cried and wished for kids who never came. And those who raised Nephews or took on Foster kids and never were honored enough.

I pray for those who lived through the unspeakable pain of having a child take their own life. I pray for special strength and grace for that, for it’s the worst thing I can imagine.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone. Treasure her if you still have her. If you are a Mom, bask in your day. And know this, that even neglectful, careless, disconnected, emotionally unavailable Mom’s may have been doing the very best they knew how to do at the time.

Today is an opportunity for us all to extend Grace to each other.

 

When God sounds a lot like your Mom

 

IMG_2919

Fresh off a morning commute, shouldering my bag, my backpack, everything necessary to supply me with what I might need for a 12 hour day. Grumbling a bit in my head, wishing I were home to enjoy the beautiful morning from my patio instead of spending it in a room without windows. I heard it……it was the voice I always hear when I hear birds sing.

I hear it especially when I am feeling a bit of regret, or sadness, or feeling a bit sorry for myself. It was my Mom’s voice I heard. And it knocked me for a loop because I had always thought that voice was God’s, but that day, I clearly heard hers.

“But the birds are singing, Lori.” Just that one sentence. Because I know what it costs her to hear them no matter what. My Mom doesn’t have an easy chair life. I have covered that before here in this blog. Though she is 85 she is up with the chickens. Already serving, praying, looking to Him for strength.

It’s hard to imagine just how deep a Mom’s love can go, but I found out a little bit more when I was home last. She was cleaning out the cedar chest, and as each item was lifted out she told the story that went along with it. Among the old report cards and drawings there was a broom I had made out of pine-needles held together with masking tape. “To clean up our camp,” she said. She cradled each item like prized artifacts.

Then, she lifted up a summer jumpsuit in white. I had forgotten all about  it. I could hear her grief all over again as she said, “This is what you came home from Mexico in.” She paused. Where I had faced the biggest grief of my life and hers, for a child’s sorrow is double for the parent. “I had expected you to look half-dead and instead you looked like a beautiful angel.”

As I get older, I see more of her in me. There are things we do just alike. Shape meatloaf for one. We don’t just slap it in a pan, we mix it, and shape it and mold it. And when we look in a mirror, we arrange our faces just so.

And we have a built-in desire to set about making a place homey. She and I bring wineglasses throw-rugs and coffee makers to campsites.

The way we always try to deflect a compliment.

Most of all, what holds our days and our hearts together like a ribbon is prayer. She taught me that.

This day is a day to honor Mother’s everywhere, and I honor her. I thank God for her everyday, that I still have her. I am also aware that there are many for whom this day holds much sadness.

It’s a day they grieve what they never had, or what they had and lost. Mother’s Day was always hard for my Mom. Her Mom wasn’t ever able to give what she needed most. She withheld love and affection, and compliments, though she gave other things.

And today we will see Elaine’s Mom, and that will be hard. We may or may not take her out to lunch. We will see how it goes. With Alzheimer’s you have to be ready for anything.

Mother’s Day has always been fraught with difficulty for her too. Her Mom was never there as a Mom should be. The other day she held up a card at the store with a weight on her shoulders. “This day is always so difficult.” She picked up the one with puppies, “Yes,” we said, “puppies are safe.”

Sometimes Mother’s Day means losing the Mother you never had, and that’s like a double grief isn’t it? But even in that, there is redemption. Because when you allow God to fill you with His grace, you can then hand that out to others. Even others you never received it from.

Today, as I lift up thanks for my own Mom, I pray for all those for whom this day is hard. I pray that God will wash you in His grace and wrap you in His great love.

And listen………for when you hear the birds sing, it’s always God disguised as your Mom.