The Real Mother’s Day is Yet to Come

bMy first memories of Mother’s Day are sitting in church as a child as the minister recognized all the mothers.  I remember them standing in recognition of their day.  I also remember them all wearing a corsage.  The ones whose mother’s were no longer living always wore white flowers and the mostly younger moms wore a red or pink corsage. It was a tradition in that generation and somehow the men knew it was part of their jobs to provide the corsage for Mother’s Day Sunday.

By the time I became a mother corsages had vanished, but recognition in church on Sunday morning remained.  In the early years of my mom years, I felt funny standing in church as if that role still belonged only to my mother and not to me.  But by the time I had three or four kids I was firmly convinced of my new identity.  As my daughter Ashley said during her fourth pregnancy, “I don’t know what happened to the old Ashley.  She got lost somewhere along the way.”  Mother was indelibly who I was and the vestiges of the old me were now to be found only in photo albums.

Honestly, Mother’s Day was usually a disappointment to me.  The inherent promise and expectation in a day set aside to honor mothers was never met.  It’s not that my husband didn’t try.  He always bought me something, usually it was a rose bush or another plant for the yard which he knew I liked.  And my kids always made me a sweet card or a crayoned picture in Sunday school.  They all said “happy Mother’s Day” and gave me kisses and hugs.  But then everyone needed lunch and naps and there were squabbles to resolve and needs to be met.

The kind of honor I longed for and needed in those harried years of selfless, endless labor was not to be found on the second Sunday in May.  Not that I’m against a day to honor mothers.  Hardly.  But really being appreciated for the enormity of service to your children is not possible from children.  What I wanted was a day free from sibling rivalry and a simple, genuine, “Thanks, Mom” that was unprompted by my husband or the Sunday school teacher.  In hindsight I now understand what I longed for is only possible when your children become adults and then parents.  Then they begin to “get it”!

You see, mothering is a ministry to the future.  It’s a very private, unseen ministry.  It’s like a long-term 20-year investment in which you cannot withdraw any of your money until the 20 years is up.  You place your bets and then wait to see the outcome many years ahead.  In mothering, there are moments of glory when you see hints that your investment is paying off, but they are not permanent until the end.  Interestingly, it’s only now that my children are grown that I really appreciate my own mother.  And even so, I really have no idea what sacrifices and worries and suffering she endured for me and my brothers.  Only God knows and He is the One who will give the ultimate honor when He says one day, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Until that day, happy Mother’s Day to all who are in the trenches of that holy and mostly thankless job. May your focus be on the honor to come on That Day and may you raise your children to walk closely with Jesus all their days.  And remember, as I so often forgot in the daily-ness of life, that a mother’s job is laborious not because it is minute, but because it is gigantic. Mothering is the most important calling on a woman’s life.  Mothers can indeed change the world.

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5 thoughts on “The Real Mother’s Day is Yet to Come

  1. Thank you for this reminder! I am overwhelmed at times with not only the daily tasks – but what I refer to as the "Emotional Maintenance" of three teenagers! Also – my mom is in heaven now and she never had the opportunity to meet my children – and she isn't here for me to say "Thank You" as I now finally "get it" and long to be able to talk with her and ask her if I am doing OK at this "Mothering Thing". God Bless You this Mother's Day!
    Mary Ann

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  2. Wow! So glad to hear that I’m not the only one who discovered that Mother’s Day is still a day of everyday mothering. My first few Mother’s Days were such a great disappointment- I actually had more work to do preparing food to take for a family gathering or hosting the family at my home. And like Mary Ann, I wish I could spend Mother’s Day with my mom! Thank you, Barbara, for the reminder of the ministry (it’s not all about me!!).

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  3. Just got off the phone with my sweet hubby who was trying to drop hints and figure out just what this Sunday should look like!! I expressed to him that in many ways, I wish we could just skip the day and pretend it didn't exist. I struggle so much with the cycle of expectations and then disappointment. I appreciate Barbara's insight and reminder of mothering with a future and eternal perspective. Honestly, one of the biggest things I'm hoping for is beautiful weather so our family of mostly sons can enjoy the afternoon outside further exploring Arkansas. But even if God chooses rain, I will try to rejoice in the wonder that God has chosen me with the honor of being Mom to 5 precious children!

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  4. Thank you. Barbara. What an amazing post. I will never look at Mother's Day, the same again. You don't realize this, but, 18 years ago, when my husband and I were first in Homebuilders group, I found you to be such an encouragement to me in my young marriage.
    God Bless All you Mothers on Mothers Day!

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  5. Thanks so much for this post. I was feeling very discouraged about mothering my toddler today. I am thankful God led me to your blog, what an encouragement! I feel the same as Mary Ann R. with my mother in heaven. And also when you said “I really have no idea what sacrifices and worries and suffering she endured for me and my brothers. Only God knows and He is the One who will give the ultimate honor when He says one day, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”” This was touching and encouraging.
    Thanks so much. Praise God!

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