May is the month that we celebrate mothers. Some of us still have ours, and some have mothers who have passed from this life or with whom we have no contact.
Of course you remember your mother, as do we. Ron’s mom was a happy-go-lucky woman who lost her husband when he was only 50 years of age. She was left to finish raising her children alone, and she still had three of them at home when her husband passed away. Her older daughters were an incredible blessing to her, so much so that she lived with her second-born daughter and her family most of the time until her death. That daughter took her and her three remaining children in when Ron’s father died. She was a fabulous professional baker, and her recipes are cherished by both of our daughters and I!
My mom was a proper lady, a nurse and a loyal daughter to her parents, caring for them until their deaths. She was a snuggly mama, but could certainly demand strict obedience from her one and only daughter. She had endured World War II while my father was overseas, giving birth to their son, and then having to lay him to rest after his brief 10 days of life. While delicate in appearance, she was a very strong woman, who remained caring for her own mother long after her husband’s death. I cherish memories of her velvet hands, her generous and loving spirit, and the smell of her perfume, as well as the way she expressed her love to me.
What do you see of your mother as you look back over your years of life? Were you or are you close to her? Was she a perfect human being? (Of course that would be impossible because no human is perfect . . . ) Did she have her faults? Were you ALWAYS treated the way you thought you should be? Are you critical of her now–perhaps even after her death? If she is still alive, do you have a warm and tender relationship with her?
You know, every mother can look back over her life, over her years of parenting, and she can wish that she had done things differently. In my case, I wish I had spent more time with my two precious daughters than I did when they were young. I should have given more time to them and neglected the church members where we pastored more than I did. I should have been less concerned about perfection and appearances, and given the girls more grace to just be kids. I should have laughed and played with them more. I should have spent more time cuddling with them and less time worrying about what our home looked like–if the place was vacuumed and dusted enough. I should have read to them more, rocked them more, sang to and with them more. I should have been far less demanding. I could go on and on with what I should have done. But how is it that they turned out to be such wonderful women? God’s grace!
Do they have their resentments of me regarding what I should have done when they were young? Yes! Do they love me anyway? Yes! Have I apologized for not being the BEST mother I could have been? Yes. Do they understand that I learned to be a perfectionist from the previous generations? Yes. Do they understand that congregations usually demand more than what a pastoral couple can give, and that their dad and I were trying to meet the expectations? Yes. Unfortunately, that does not erase the pain they felt then and the pain that still comes up once in a while.
Do I see them as often as I would like to? No. But you know what? They are both busy professionals, happily married with adult children of their own. They are both dedicated to their families, their careers and their friends, and we taught them that.
I am proud to say that I am their mother, imperfect and sometimes needy, but even though we gave them away in wedding ceremonies, they are still mine, and are loved dearly–on Mother’s Day and every other day of the year. That mother’s love, imperfect as it is, is always strong and will endure forever.
So I ask you now . . . What relationship do you or did you have with your mother? What relationship did or do you have with your children if you are a mother? I challenge you as this Mother’s Day comes around, to do whatever is necessary to make your relationship the very best it can be, as a son or daughter and as a mother. And if like me, your mother is in her grave, at least recall all of the positive memories of her that you can, and thank the Lord for them. Both the good and the bad are a part of who you are.