I have mixed feelings about Mothers Day. On one hand, it is nice that the role I chose to fill, that has been the primary focus of over half of my life, and in many ways has defined much of who I have become, is recognized and honored. On the other hand, I struggle with the unrealistic, unattainable expectations and the harsh realities that it exposes. I will be the first to tell you that I am not a perfect mother. My kids know that all too well. I was not even all that sure I wanted to have children so the fact that I did and that we all lived to tell about it is a God thing and not anything I can take credit for. I have been blessed with two “biological” children, their spouses and grandkids, but have always considered family much larger and more inclusive than simply “blood relation” and have many “adopted” kids and the role I fill in their lives looks drastically different in each relationship.
I have often said that being a mom is one of the most important and significant roles a woman can choose to fill, and I believe that with my whole being. But as we, as a culture, celebrate motherhood I am acutely aware of painful realities that make this a “not so great” holiday.
I have friends who have not been able to have biological children of their own for one reason or another. Some have adopted, some have not but in every case these wonderful women struggled with their worth and the whys because of it. I have friends who have gone through traumatic times in their lives and for whatever reason at the time, chose to end a pregnancy. Every one of them have regrets and struggle with the “what ifs” and forgiveness. I have friends who have lost children, young and old…no parent should have to face losing a child. Their pain is excruciating and overwhelming. I have friends who have willingly taken on the role of step-mom and have chosen to love and invest in kids lives as if they were their own while struggling with the difficult issues of blended family and, at times, the emotional blackmail and manipulation that often accompanies divorce situations. Not to mention friends carrying a heartbreaking heavy burden for their kids who are making destructive life choices. I have friends whose own moms are abusive or mean, absent, or just plain dysfunctional.
Biological birth does not a “mother” make. And not giving birth does not mean you are not a mother to someone or that you cannot fill that important and significant role in someone’s life.
Being a mom is a privilege and blessing and, at the same time, a contrast of extremes and really doesn’t look the same for any woman. This holiday seems to put all women, one way or another, in a box of unrealistic expectations and, I think if we were all honest, at the very least generates mixed feelings for the majority of us. I have often stood in front of a congregation on a Mother’s Day Sunday to present some gift or token to a “special” mother and felt a heavy burden for all the women sitting there who were in deep emotional pain, not able to share with anyone how they were feeling.
Even shopping for a card is difficult. There are THOUSANDS of cards…and they Just. Don’t. Fit. I can’t find one that expresses how I feel or the reality of my particular “mother-daughter” relationship. And even that makes me feel guilty. I “should” feel this way or that…but it’s not my reality.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom and she was a good mom but we all have expectations and emotional needs and there is a difference between “role” and “relationship”. As adults especially, we girls seem to struggle with the transition between “role” and “relationship”. I am a late-in-life child and, frankly, were raised by “different” parents than my older (16 and 20 years older) siblings and have wonderful memories of my childhood. But my adult reality is a struggle at times. I have willingly chosen to care for my aging, 90 year old mom in our home. It is a blessing and privilege and it is also not easy. I love her dearly but the transition from daughter to “parenting my mom” has been a difficult one. It has made me face my own shortcomings as both daughter and mother but hopefully this season in my life will help me be a better mom to my adult children as I strive to honor my own mom by caring for her. There is nothing in my life that has grown me, challenged me, given me more joy and pain, or made me feel more like a success AND failure than filling the role of Mother and now, as parent/daughter. I am blessed beyond what I deserve, I am proud of my girls and the godly women they have become. And I pray I will continue to allow the Lord to use my kids and my mom to grow me into the woman He wants me to be.
Whether you are a “mother” in the traditional sense or you fill that role in someone’s life…YOU ARE A WOMEN DESIGNED BY GOD AND VALUABLE AND IMPORTANT! And, as women, we are ALL daughters who can, at the very least, be thankful for having been given life and the opportunity to choose what kind of daughter, mother, friend, WOMAN we want to be.
YOU IS KIND…YOU IS SMAAAART…YOU IS IMPORTANT!
(Prov 31:30,31 NIV) Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a WOMAN who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.