A friend sent this to me a few weeks ago. She wrote it for Mother’s Day 11 years ago, and it was given as a sermon at her church. She didn’t send it to me before Mother’s Day this year because she didn’t want to upset me. She knew that this Mother’s Day, the first without my mother, would be difficult for me. I thought it was beautiful, the words touched my heart, and I wanted to share it with others.
Here’s what she wrote:
About three years ago, I was visiting my parent’s home with my infant son, Shane, when my father turned to me and said that this chubby, bright-eyed child was the best thing I had done with my life. I remember that I laughed, but that deep inside I was hurt that my father would think that out of all of the goals that I had striven for and reached, and out of all of the things I had thus far accomplished in my life, that simply giving birth to a child could make him praise me so much. I joked about that statement often over the past couple of years until one day my mother said to me, “You know—your father was right.”
My father died in January of 1997, and for anyone who has ever lost a cherished loved one, you know that your view of life changes after a death. Life gains perspective and the truly important things in life become clearer to you. I guess you could say that you gain wisdom. So, now I also agree with my father. What could I possibly do in my lifetime that would be more important than giving birth to a child?
Children are one of God’s greatest gifts to us. They ensure that our humanity, our love, our generosity, and more importantly, our faith will live for generation after generation.
A woman has been entrusted by God to do that which is not gifted to men or even to angels. And God has given womankind the capacity to continue this miracle of life for eternity. To bring a tiny, wonderful, human being into the world. Attached to this gift is a great responsibility…to nurture this child, to care for it with her entire being, to show it as much love and kindness as she possibly can. And a mother embraces this task with open arms.
In the Talmud it says, “God could not be everywhere and, therefore, He made mothers.” How wonderful of Him to have created a being so willing to give so much of herself to someone else.
There is a saying, “Once a mother, always a mother.” If you have ever watched a grandmother with her grandchildren, or a great-grandmother with her great-grandchildren, you know that this saying is true. The same woman who may have been a strict disciplinarian with her own children will simply melt in the hands of a grandchild. “One more piece of candy…sure!” “You want to go to bed at 11:00 instead of 9:00…no problem!” My son has a t-shirt that reads, “That’s it…I’m calling Grandma!” Once the strong sense of responsibility she has with her own children is stripped away, a grandmother’s love just pours forth in waves. A mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother. The capacity for loving just keeps repeating itself over and over with seemingly endless supply. Once a mother, always a mother.
I personally cannot imagine what my own life would be like without my mother. As I have grown older, she has become more than just a mother to me, and I more than just her daughter. She has been by my side through every hurt and every joy I have ever known. We are friends, confidants, and I know that she would be there for me wherever and whenever I needed her. Sometimes in my adult life, the feeling I had in my childhood when I stubbed my toe or had a bad scare still comes over me. I want my mother. She will make the hurt go away. If my mother is there, nothing is quite so bad, or quite so painful.
Most of us, at some point in our lives, have disappointed our mothers—the turmoil of our adolescence, our relationships with others, or possibly even in raising our own children. But we know that despite our failures, there will always be warmth in her embraces, and love in her eyes. Because a mother’s love is completely forgiving. To know a mother’s love, is to know a love like no other.
For a woman raising a child in today’s world, it can be especially trying. We live in an era of instant gratification and being a mother is not always instantly gratifying. The whining three-year-old who doesn’t care that it took you an hour to prepare a well-balanced dinner. He just wants a grilled cheese sandwich. The teenage daughter who doesn’t care how hard you worked to buy her a $50 pair of jeans. She needs at least two pair to be really cool. I know in raising my own two children how overwhelming of a responsibility it can sometimes be—to love them, instill values, and nurture their faith. To help them curb their wilder appetites while still allowing their wonderful, unique personalities to grow. But sometimes when I simply sit and watch them—running through the yard, picking me flowers, or playing with one another, my love for them simply overwhelms me. It rushes into me and brings tears to my eyes. I want to hug them and hold them forever, and protect them from every hurt they will ever know. It is at those times that I know I would trade places with no human being on earth. That I will always want to be exactly what I am now—the mother of two wonderful children. Their protector, their caregiver, their source of life.
Mother’s Day is a time of reflection for us. To recall the cherished memories of those who have passed on to a better place, and the memories of those mothers who are still with us. We bring forth these recollections from our hearts and caress them like pictures in a well-worn family album. We contemplate all our mother has ever done for us, and wonder at her capacity for giving and for loving. We are the center of their lives and they are always concerned about our well-being. Are we happy, healthy, and safe?
Whether we celebrate this Mother’s Day by kneeling and placing flowers on a grave, share a cup of coffee at brunch, or place a long-distance call to our mother, we all share a common bond. That special feeling in our hearts about that blessed woman who comforted us during our many times of sorrow, laughed with us in times of joy, and smiled that beautiful smile at our accomplishments…both big and small. The first time we said “Ma Ma”, our first steps, when we graduated, fell in love for the first time, our wedding day, and the day we gave birth to children of our own. We should honor our mothers by living every day as if it were Mother’s Day. As a thank you for all of the minutes, days, months, and years they have devoted to us. Each and every day should be a celebration of our mother’s love for us.
If asked to explain today what exactly we feel for our mothers, I guarantee most of us would be at a loss for words. For how can we possibly explain something that is so intertwined with emotions, experiences, and love? There is a poem my grandmother taught me as a young girl that attempts to do just this.
M is for the million things she gave me
O means only that she’s growing old
T is for the tears she shed to save me
H is for her heart of purest gold
E is for her eyes of love-light shining
R means right, and right she’ll always be
Put them all together; they spell MOTHER
A word that means the world to me.
I will always be grateful to my father for opening my eyes, for he was so right. What could be more important in my life than being a mother?
I thank God for the opportunity.
These words were written over a decade ago, but they are still so true today. Even though reading this brought tears to my eyes and an ache to my heart because I miss my mom so much, I’m glad that my friend shared what she had written with me. She is a special friend who understands what it’s like to lose a parent, and has been a source of great support for me since my mom died.