Today is Mother's Day, that most guilt-producing of holidays, the one that brings all sorts of raw emotions to the surface to stick around for a day or two. Or longer if you let it.
What I used to dislike about Mother's Day was listening to all the talks in church about what the "ideal" mother should be. Really, how could any mother measure up to those standards? So instead of feeling happy that there were mothers out there who measured up to such high ideals, who raised their children with such skill, I would just feel bad that I didn't. I would just leave with my wilting geranium feeling awful, like I had some unfixable Mommy flaw. I wondered why we had to devote the entire church meeting to Mother's Day. After all, we totally glossed over Father's Day a month later.
One year my husband was asked to speak in church on Mother's Day. I wondered what he would say that wouldn't make me feel guilty and less than ideal. He started out by reading the words to one of the children's hymns. It goes:
Mother dear, I love you so,
Your happy smiling face,
Is such a joy to look at,
You make home a lovely place.
He then told the congregation that that particular song really struck a nerve with his wife (me). He described how in a fit of despair I had thrown myself on the bed and declared that my children were deprived because I didn't have a happy, smiling face; I had a grumpy, frowning face. And how I couldn't make the home a lovely place when I was so woefully inadequate. And why was making the home a lovely place all up to me anyway, blah, blah, blah. It was quite a display. He described it quite dramatically.
The congregation roared while I slumped down in my seat. They thought it was the funniest thing ever. After I got over being embarassed, thinking, "great, now everyone thinks I'm insane," I realized they were laughing because they related. They'd felt everything I'd felt. The difference was that now it was out on the open. Everyone could relax. They weren't going to get a lecture on the qualities of the perfect mother. They were going to get the real stuff. Darren went on to talk about how we need to support mothers without making them feel inadequate, that the most important present mothers needed was support and encouragement, not impossible ideals to live up to.
I loved that talk. It changed my attitude about Mother's Day at church. Personally, I think the best present of all would be not to have to get up and go to church, but since that's not an option, I had to work on the attitude part.
I love seeing my kids up there singing a song to me. Today they sang:
Mother I love you,
Mother I do,
Father in Heaven has sent me to you.
When I am near you
I love to hear you
Singing so softly that you love me too.
Mother I love you,
I love you, I do.
That song just makes be beam. My children are a precious gift. I realize that now. But years ago I would have felt bad that I didn't sing enough to my children!
It's just a fact that the mother's attitude is transferred to all around her, whether they are six months old or 16. It's not fair at all, but that's the way it is. Ain't Momma happy ain't nobody happy, or however that familiar saying goes. And like my grandmother used to tell me, "Honey, life isn't fair!"
So as the children get older, Mother's Day is more fun. There aren't any babies to nurse or diapers to change. Today I took a good long nap and my girls and their cousin fixed dinner for me and the rest of the family. Wow. The next generation can cook. That's a beautiful feeling. Maybe I have done something right.
Also, Darren made me a huge picnic table that seats 12 people. Isn't that a great gift? I was thrilled. I loved looking at my mother, her husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, their children and my children sitting around that awesome table. It made me eager to have more dinners with family and friends in my back yard.
So tomorrow, no breakfast in bed, no leisurely naps, no dinner being made. It's back to the motherly grind. All in all, it's not a bad grind to be in. It's actually pretty wonderful sometimes.
I love you, Adrienne, Samantha, Nathan, and Leah! You're such great kids, in spite of your mother!