Mother’s Day is one of those days that brings different emotions to many people. There is often sadness for those whose mothers have passed on, particularly if the loss was recent. There is often celebration of those mothers who could have earned a ‘Mother of the Year’ award almost any year.
However, the reality is that most people experience real life in their relationship with their mother — a mixed bag of happy memories, sincere regrets, angry outbursts, complicated misunderstandings, periods of silence and so on.
Perhaps that’s why card shops like Hallmark, after so many years in business, still seem to struggle to produce just the right card for many well-intentioned shoppers. With Mother’s Day card categories like “Mom, You’re the Best,” “Across the Miles,” “Warm and Respectful,” “Humorous,” and “Simply Stated,” you’d think there could be just the right card somewhere in that long aisle.
However, year after year I have observed many fellow shoppers struggling to find that perfect card, and I’ve listened with interest to their under-the-breath grumbling as they frantically search for that seemingly elusive card.
“She wasn’t religious.”
“No emotion at all in that one.”
“She’s my mother — not my wife.”
The truth is that only you can best articulate your thoughts and feelings about your Mom. And if you’re fortunate enough to still have a living mother with whom you actually communicate positively, then it is your words she wants to hear — not those of some professional card writer.
Mother’s Day is in many ways a day set aside each year to honor mothers, to shame children, to stigmatize the childless, and to provide retailers with a springtime sales bounce.
This year I hope you will mark this day however it best fits your own situation. Don’t let the movies, the commercials, the sappy stories, or even the preacher’s message dictate the way you acknowledge the day — or the way you decide not to acknowledge it.
Relationships are difficult. Life is messy. Not everyone has a reason to celebrate — or even to remember fondly.
I’m one of the lucky ones, I suppose. I plan to spend a few minutes visiting by phone with my mother, who has blessed my life in innumerable ways. I’ll treat my wife and mother of my children (along with the children themselves) to a nice Mother’s Day brunch. And if I know me well, I’ll end up feeling guilty for not being able to spend some actual time with my mom — and guilty for creating work for those moms who had to cook and serve my family. It’s true what they say: life isn’t fair.
I also plan to do a few other things on this day:
- I plan to send warm thoughts to those whose mothers have died in the last year, particularly young children.
- I will pray for those I know who want so badly to be parents but have found that dream impossible, at least to this point.
- I will offer some special prayers for those who opted to abort their ‘fetus’ — and never feel the warmth and pride of seeing that it actually was a baby human with feelings, with life, with a soul.
- I will pray especially that more of those who don’t want to be parents, for whatever reason, will be willing to give life to their child — and a treasured opportunity to those who do want to raise a child.
- I will think of those mothers whose children are risking their lives in military service that we might enjoy freedom.
- I will think of those whose mothers are behind bars.
- I will think of courageous single moms who are working multiple jobs in order to provide for their children — often without any special acknowledgement even on days like this.
- I will think of those people who are dealing with their mother’s serious physical or mental illness or chemical dependency.
- I will think of those moms of children with special needs. The ones I know demonstrate extraordinary strength and resilience in the face of persistent challenges.
If you find yourself fitting fairly snugly into one of those categories, then I pray God’s special blessings on you today. I hope you’ll feel some comfort knowing that there are millions of you in this great big world; not everybody gets to be ‘normal’ or ‘traditional.’
If you are reading this and classify yourself as one of the ‘normal’ folks for whom Mother’s Day presents no emotional ambivalence, no baggage, and no special issues, then count yourself blessed — and spend some time thinking and praying for someone who is struggling today. I have no doubt that you can think of at least one such individual.
However you choose to spend this day, I pray that you’ll be able to see the hand of God at work in your life on this second Sunday in May.