I try to stay away from anything that could be controversial. I don’t like to take sides, nor do I like to debate. In fact, the mere thought of having to defend my personal thoughts, feelings, and opinions makes me run for the hills like Superman from kryptonite.
However, I’ve decided to dip my toes in the water. Now, we are talking baby pool, temperate water here, but water, nonetheless.
Deep breath. Here we go…
Apparently, I really value Mothers’ Day. I value mothers. I value the work they do, the love they have, the sacrifice they make, the dedication they show, the care they give…on and on and on. From a personal perspective, I adore the little things the kiddos do just to make you smile. A handmade card, macaroni necklaces, poems, flowers picked from my garden (or maybe my neighbor’s…oops), and the traditional burnt toast in bed. Now, probably unlike others, I genuinely love burnt toast, so for me, they’ve created a delicacy.
And I love that they smile at me.
This Sunday, Little Man came to me with the presentation of my Mothers’ Day gift: “Mom, (whine, cry, sniffle)…we are going to help you…(moan)…pull that tree out of the front yard…(bigger cry)…WITH A GOOD ATTITUDE (full-on wail)!”
And give me hugs.
Love it. =)
All this to say, I appreciate what it takes to be a mommy and I am grateful that there is a day set aside to honor the women who give it all.
The dilemma lies in the fact that not everyone feels this way. There are many people out there who have been hurt, abandoned, abused, and forgotten by their mothers. Just as many who are dying to be a mother but have seen God answer that prayer again and again with a “No, my child. Not now. Maybe not ever.” For the people in these categories, I hurt. My heart hurts for and with them, and they are not to be forgotten.
And to the women reading this blog who may lie there, please accept my love and know that you too are to be honored, whether you have been mothered poorly or are longing to mother. You, just for being a woman, are to be honored. You are standing where God has placed you, and already love so many. Thank you for that.
The problem I find myself facing in these last few days is the fact that our church has chosen, out of respect for the hurting people out there, not to commemorate Mothers’ Day. There is no recognition of mothers, no flowers given, no one to pray for us in the work we do, no one to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”. The words “Mothers’ Day” are not even mentioned. Not once. As if it doesn’t exist.
And I find myself terribly bothered by that.
Here it is, three days after Mothers’ Day, and I am writing at 5 in the morning because this lack of recognition still plagues me. But what plagues me is this: WHY does it bother me so? I try to be a compassionate person, and in so doing, feel the deep regard for our church to honor those who do not or have not had a good mothering situation. Typically, I can grab hold of that compassion and come to peace.
But not this time.
So why? Why does this bother me so? I have gone over this again and again and have come to a few conclusions. Again, this is my personal view, so feel free to take the parts you like and discard the rest. But here is what I’ve discovered about myself:
At first, I felt very selfish, like I needed the recognition. The pat on the back. Someone to say, “Yea, you. You wiped, schlepped, organized, cleaned, buttoned, and fed beautifully this year!” I spent a good deal of time thinking about how the working husbands of SAHM’s get to hear “well done” at their jobs and I admit, I was jealous of that. I guess part of me feels like Mothers’ Day is the one time we get to have people smile and clap that we cleaned the toilets for the 63rd time that year. It’s the day when our husbands, brothers, pastors, and friends get to tell us (and we get to hear) how thankful they are that we have given our lives to grocery shopping, laundry-sorting, and fever checking.
But then, as I continued my pondering, I came to realize that it wasn’t just about the personal recognition. It wasn’t that I alone needed the pat on the back. It came to be more about my “group”; my demographic. I am standing in a role which doesn’t always feel comfortable to me, but does feel like what I’ve been called and encouraged to be. By the church. By church leaders. By people I respect. By the Bible.
It was very, very hard for me to take on the role as a SAHM. When Hubby and I were dating, he asked about what life would look like for me when I had kids. “Oh, I’ll still be working for sure!”
Hubby: “Even when they are little?”
Ignorant me: “Of course! I was raised to work. I just finished my college degree! I didn’t do that to stay at home.”
And now, here I am.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it sure took a LOT to get me to this position, and being here has been a struggle of the will. I’ve spent many years of my life wondering what good I was to society. If I don’t earn any money, but do a good deal of spending…well, THAT doesn’t work out! Why did I take all that time working my tail off to get a degree I don’t use? Admittedly, sometimes my work-brain gets the best of me, and I struggle being a SAHM again and again. This struggle is actually part of the reason I take so much time to count the blessings of mommydom. To remind myself of the gift that it really is, especially when I feel so out of place.
But I digress. My dilemma is that here I find myself, sole role being one of caring for tiny tots in our home (ok, and in the school, on the soccer field, at ballet….), and I find myself stuck. Stuck between being happy and feeling worthless to society.
So come Mothers’ Day, I look to the body of people who do all the ephemeral support to do a bit more tangible support: the church. The body who shows me who I should be, as a wife, a mother, a woman. The body who outwardly praises the role I and other mommies take on as being the way God designed it. The body who, on other Sundays, preaches from the pulpit the honor it takes to be a mother. The body who has books, classes, lectures, and groups designed to show me how to do it (the closest thing I have to a manual).
And there is silence.
And I feel abandoned. Jaded. Tricked. Duped. Ignored.
(Pause again to remember: I know the silence is to honor those who have been hurt and are hurting. I respect that.)
My former church would ask all the mothers in the congregation to stand. Then they’d ask all the women who HAD mothers to stand. Then they’d ask all the women who ever knew a child to stand. Until all the women of the church were standing. These pillars of silent strength were then prayed over by the men of the church and, eventually, applauded.
And every year that little momento helped me to carry on. It was just the support I needed to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
And I felt honored. Loved. Respected. Accepted.
So to all the mommies, the mommied, and the hopeful mothers out there:
Well done! You are loved! I am proud of you! You can do it! Thank you!
That’s the cleanest toilet I’ve ever seen.