Copyright © 2019
by Ralph F. Couey
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all."
Have we ever wondered a mother's silent cries?
Her struggles, her fears, her worries?
Have we ever thought of the sacrifices
she has done to make our lives happier,
and her dreams cut short
to make our dreams come true?
--Ama H. Vanniarachchy
As Mother's Day was approaching, I had time to speak with the moms that came through my check lane at Target. I was amazed to hear of the number of them who had given birth either on Mother's Day or a few days either side. I counted 26 of them over the three days prior to the holiday. As we talked, they told me how special that day had been, the ultimate Mom's Day present. But they also talked about how those birthdays began to overwhelm the holiday, and I could sense that they felt a little left out. But they were all quick to add "But, that's okay. It's a treat to see my kid having fun."
The life of a mother is one of endless sacrifice. It is a tribute to their selfless natures, but also a reminder to the rest of us to look...really look at what they do day in and day out. A mother's love is one of those rare and beautiful things that will always be there as sure as the sun shines in the morning and the stars glow at night.
It starts at the very beginning. Most women will tell you that pregnancies do terrible things to their body. Some will suffer ailments related to various vitamin and mineral deficiencies because their body's resources are being diverted to the tiny life they carry within. Bones are rearranged, skin stretches, and they are remade. Once the baby is born, the real sprint begins. Most of the rest of us expect moms to be up and around after a few days and back to taking care of the rest of us. I suspect there is a kind of guilt in the mom herself, knowing that even as she recovers, the house still needs to be cleaned, dinners still need to be made, other kids (and husbands) to care for, and then there's are the other jobs -- the paying ones.
Moms are driven by a singular kind of energy, which if it could be bottled, I suspect would power the United States for weeks on end. They run the household, and they run our lives, not out of some misplaced megalomania, but because they love; deeply, passionately, and stridently. This endless energy is a part of them that runs without ceasing for their entire lives. Even when kids are adults, not an hour goes by when their mom doesn't think about them, and worry about them. And when a mother becomes a grandmother, that love blossoms all over again.
They understand little children in ways none of the rest of us ever will, because they not only tend to them, they actually live in their child's world -- how they play, what they like, what brings them sorrow and joy. They understand at a very basic level that innocence. They also understand what happens in the teen years when aliens come and possess their children's minds. Despite all those battles, the love never dies. They don't just raise children, they are fully invested in them, so much so that when the time comes for her children to take wings, they find it so very hard to let go.
And they're thinking of that moment. They know that parenting consists of a lot of long days, but some very short years. I think some of them fear that just a little. Someday, before they are truly ready to accept it, that cute little toddler staggering across the room with binky in hand today will be walking out the door to college, to marriage, to their own lives. It's a hard thing because if moms have done their job right, at eighteen years of age, that child is now an adult, fully prepared to stand on their own two feet and take control of their lives. In other words, they don't need mom anymore, at least not in the way both have come to know. But that relationship will always be there. One day, the phone will ring, and a voice will say, "Mom, do you have time to talk?" And Mom will instantly cancel all other plans, sit down, and listen.
That same warm, loving embrace that soothed the pain of scraped knees and bruised feelings will be there after a tough day at work, or problems in the marriage. Whenever a grown child needs that place of refuge and protection, those arms will enfold, embrace, and make it all go away.
We will always feel inferior, because we struggle, and remember how they made it look so easy. Their wisdom shaped us in youth and sustained us as adults. And on that day when God takes them into His loving arms, they leave a hole in our hearts that will never again be filled.
Mother's Day celebrations usually consist of breakfast in bed, lunch or dinner out, maybe a shopping expedition and a few presents, along with the flowers and card. But I ran into many who spent the whole weekend at graduations, baseball, soccer, and La Crosse games, some sitting in the cold and rain. And they all said, "But that's okay." And it truly was for them. Their children are their lives, and giving their time to their kids is automatic, and at the same time, joyful.
The fact remains, however, that nothing we could ever do will come close to rewarding them for all that they have done, and will do. Dozens of red roses, meals they didn't have to plan, cook, and clean up afterwards...there simply isn't enough of those in a lifetime to make up the debt. They don't make roses that beautiful or chocolate that sweet. The best thing we can do is to honor them every day, not just this one day in May. Tell them -- and show them -- that they are loved and appreciated. Do things for them, not after they've asked a couple of dozen times, but just because they needed done, and you know it would make her happy. Cancel your own plans, and hang out with her for an afternoon or an entire day. Praise her, honor her, and love her because that's what she has done for you.
Let's make every day a Mother's Day, because they deserve it. I think we'll find that giving love is every bit as wonderful as receiving love.