You may have heard me say this before, but as a single parent, a divorced woman, and a pastor—I arrive at Mother’s Day with a little bit of melancholy and a heaping healing of fear and trepidation. My former husband was never one to jump to the tune of American cultural expectations so even when I was not a single parent no one served me breakfast in bed or celebrated the day. My kind and wonderful sons have not yet arrived at the point in life where they have become other centered enough to turn the spotlight on their mother. And my own mother has been geographically far enough away for the last 30 years that I add on a layer of guilt every May for how little I give to her. Of course, I am usually working on Mother’s Day—so that adds to the challenge I hear (and the annoyance I feel) when the world is proclaiming “Happy Mother’s Day!” I see the romanticized advertisements for bling and flowers; the Lifetime Television stories of grand and giving mother-child moments; the seemingly perfect mothering represented on the blogs of beautiful, blonde, still married mothers; the crafty creativity catering to kids on Pinterest and I feel myself slipping and sliding on the syrup and schlock. I compare myself to the fantasies presented by Hollywood, Hallmark and stay-at-home moms and think, “Why is my life not like that?” Therein lies the melancholy…
Fortunately, I have plenty of parenting and women’s wisdom that offsets the messages coming out of Wall Street, Madison Avenue and the Web. Not the least of which is to be sure I am not comparing my insides to every one else’s outsides—not to mention the knowledge that a lot of it is self reporting and none of the advertising is real. I mean really, who actually has this ‘photo-shopped’ picture of perfection? This Mothering Myth that we are sold as the norm? You know what they say, the only ‘normal’ in this life is the cycle on your washing machine! By the grace of God, I can change the conversation in my head and gain an appropriate perspective.
But I have also been blessed as a pastor with many mentors in ministry who have taught me that this is a day filled, at best with mixed emotions (like those of my own experience) and at its worst, horrible pain. Whether it is little (whiney) disappointments like mine or big, big pain—like a beloved mother who recently died, a child who did not make it to this world from the womb, a mother who judges just a little too much or harmed us with abuse or alcoholism, a pregnancy given up for adoption, a step-child with whom you can quite connect, or…—I am here to tell you that God understands. And the very same fantasy messages about mothering that I am talking about can hurt a little or they can hurt so badly that you can barely breathe through the day.
Beloved, I pray that on this day in particular, a day so fraught with mixed emotion for all of us, that you might turn to the God who loves you unconditionally, who gathers you up like a hen gathers her chicks, who named you and claimed you, and who holds you in Her hands day in and day out. Beloved, I pray that you know that you DO have a perfect Mother! She is the One who created you before you were in your mothers womb and who knows every cell and every fiber of your being. Turn to your Mother God this Sunday if your heart is hurting—for She will never leave and offers you the perfect peace. May it be so.
Rev. Wendy Miller Olapadefirstname.lastname@example.org
Giving Thanks for Our Biblical Mothers
Eve our first mother – thank you for stepping out and being the first to understand the complexities of life.
Sarah, Hannah and Elizabeth – thank you for your patience and courage in waiting for a miracle. May all people longing for children be strengthened by your stories and comforted in their pain.
Hagar – thank you for your resolve in the face of exile. May all mothers who are forced to flee or are forgotten be given hope in you.
Rebecca – thank you for your flexibility. Let us remember all mothers who have to raise their children in a different country or far from their relatives and who feel isolated.
Rachel – you carried the burden of grief and wept for your children. Hold the hands of all those mothers who weep for their children – children who have gone missing, who have died or are lost to them in other ways.
Jochebed – you used wisdom and insight to protect your children. Give to all mothers this wisdom and insight in the bringing up of their children, especially in vulnerable times.
Naomi and Ruth – you showed that love can conquer all trials. Help all mothers to love constantly when life seems impossible and despair weighs hard upon their souls.
Mary – the new Eve whose ‘yes’ to God changed our world forever. Thank you for sheltering the Holy One all those years ago, for your faithful love and tender care of God’s most precious Son. May we never forget that in your giving is our greatest receiving – of the gift of life wrapped in a manger and in a tomb. May we know the true cost of relationship by holding our faith in Christ deep within our hearts as you once held him deep within your womb. Amen