Mother's Day is Difficult for Some...
Hello and welcome back to the blog dearest Reader.
Today is Mothers' Day.
It seems as if my entire town has shut down: people are scrambling to hotels for brunch with flowers and cards in tow. Our church hauled in special ice cream treats just to celebrate the occasion, and everywhere I walked today, someone was wishing me a happy Mother's Day.
This morning I even heard from the pulpit how incredible mothers are; in prayer, our pastor took time to give thanks for all of our amazing mothers, followed by a word of sympathy for everyone who had lost their (equally) incredible mothers.
Okay thanks Pastor.
But what about the people who DON'T have a saintly mother? What about the people who aren't filled with warm glowing feelings when the topic of "mothers" comes up? What about THOSE people?
It really appears that those hurting people get overlooked for the favorable narrative that mothers are saints. And sure, this is fine on Mother's Day, but it truly feels like a year-round thing. People just ASSUME that "mother knows best." It's as if people have a difficult time recognizing bad mothers because they want to paint a picture of the strength and beauty of motherhood as a whole.
And honestly, I can get behind this. It's important to celebrate the role of mothers and to encourage people through the difficulties that that job brings. Motherhood is absolutely a beautiful and incredible thing. Many mothers are wonderful, and many people depend on this affection and support throughout the span of their entire life.
Mothers raise you, love you, and nurture you. But the truth is that mothers can also hurt you, manipulate you, slander you, and abuse you.
Mothers are not perfect, and not everyone had the delight of an understanding and cheerleading mom waiting in the wings for them no matter what happened. There are heinous examples of mothers throughout history, and I personally know many women who love their children on a conditional basis.
Mothers are HUMAN, just like us. They aren't exempt from bad behavior, attitudes, actions, or relationships. Having a child doesn't magically transform you into a better person. We certainly do not elevate fathers into the position of "Saint" just for having and caring for a child.
We are collectively aghast as a society when a mother fails to nurture or unconditionally love her children, but again, mothers are HUMAN: prone to sin and bound to fail at some point. Sure, it is shocking to hurt those whom you bore from your own womb, but from a Biblical perspective, failing to love your children well is no different than failing to love your neighbor well.
I have found and even seen personally that this high moral standard for mothers inevitably leads to massive levels of pain and disappointment when they fail to achieve the Saintlike standard set up for them. The angel you once looked up to quickly gets cast as a demon for failing to be the nurturer you expected her to be.
Today I want to share that there is true freedom in letting go of the dreamlike notion and narrative that mothers are Saints with the incredible capacity to love unconditionally. This expectation only leads to mass confusion and frustration when they fail to meet it. We must recognize and accept the humanity of our mothers. They are not above reproach, and they are not free from the temptation to sin.
I encourage you today to begin seeing your mother for what she is: a human. And the cool thing about doing this? You are releasing her from the standard of "saintly mother" and allowing her to be just like everyone else. It is so much easier to forgive a fellow human's shortcomings than it is to forgive the shortcomings of someone you once idolized
But don't worry: we can certainly honor and celebrate our human mothers. Removing her from the status of Saint or angel does not automatically mean we cannot be grateful, celebratory, or honoring to our mothers.
Quite the contrary! I believe we can both honor someone AND recognize their humanity. We can love them, celebrate them, without also elevating them to impossible standards for morality.
So am I saying we cannot celebrate mothers? No. Am I saying we need to pitch out the holiday because mothers aren't perfect? No.
I'm just here to recognize the people who are hurting on Mother's Day. The people for whom mother's day is actually more of a grief-related holiday than a time to drink mimosas and pass around flowers.
I see you, I understand you, and I'm giving you a hug.
All the best,