So Mother’s Day is looming, the whole day fills me with very mixed feelings. You have to know I love a celebration but Mothers all over the world are made to expect that their children are going to tell them how wonderful they are. And I know so many mothers are going to be disappointed that their kids forgot or that their husband didn’t even get the kids to make her a cup of tea. Mother’s Day is one of those awkward times where we have raised the expectation of a given day so high that it is bound disappoint.
I am not one of those incredible moms that fill every second of every day of their children’s days with joy. Of course I do my best, I am in the business of making memories and we have made more than a few together. But just as I don’t have perfect children… I am far, far away from being the perfect mother. Honestly, I do feel the pressure when I read posts that gently enquire: “What will your children remember you by this mothers day?” Do I appear in enough of their photographs? How many bed-time stories will be enough for my children to know that I love them? Because I so do love them, more than I can breathe and when I see them across the way my breath literally catches at how wonderful they are.
Put on a spot if some-one says to any of my kids: “You must have such a great mom?” there is always a kind of a silence… the silence, while they try to recover themselves and the gap in time between the words being out there and their response: “Um, yeah!” Throw in a dozen glitter smeared cards and it becomes something to live up to. Suddenly all the silly little things I do for them are no longer just a loving service… there is an expectation that I am going to be this great mom and that they are going to reward me on Mother’s Day.
So where do we get these inflated mothering ideas from… where oh where does the idea come from that we have to be totally perfect mothers… I know there are brilliant moms out there… These moms manage not to appear rumpled and crumpled, tired and cranky and even have those days when they are just getting by. Turns out if you dig a little deeper even these moms slope around in sweat pants and eat ice-cream out of the tub when everyone else is sleeping.
So I turned to the Bible to see just who the perfect mum was meant to be and why it was so hard to be that mum. Now mothers in the Bible it turns out were far from perfect and yet they were all instrumental in fulfilling God’s perfect plan. Let’s begin in the New Testament and work our way back in time:
- Salome: Was the mother of the disciples James and John. She was so proud of her sons and she so desperately wanted them to get a head start that she asked Jesus that when he arrives on His throne that her sons may be seated immediately to His left and right. Nothing shy about this mom, she didn’t even wait for a quiet moment to ask Him on the side!!!
- Mary: Who needs no introduction and mislaid her child for a few days before she found him teaching in the synagogue. It wasn’t a couple of minutes he was ought of sight, we are talking days here. All this during the very busy time of the Passover. I am sure she was beside herself with grief and terror and imagine the headlines: “Mother mislays child for two or three days while on vacation.”
- Bathsheba: Was the mother of King Solomon. She married King David, but only after he had arranged to have her husband Urriah killed… Yes she was married to another man when she and David began their relationship.
- Hannah: Who was so desperate for a baby, and I can so understand that, then promised to give her child to the temple and followed up on it… Not exactly the picture of today’s ideal mother. Can you see the article: “Mother waits years to conceive, then leaves child at the temple as a servant.”
- Jochabed: She was the mother of Moses… she set him adrift in the Nile River… No we don’t know how close he was to the pharaoh’s daughter at the time. But it was a river filled with crocodiles, snakes, not to mention hippo’s. Pretty risky action to take for a loving mother… and yes the story did turn out to be more than satisfying with Jochabed raising her own baby for the Pharaoh’s daughter. But it could have been disastrous.
- Rebekah: Sarah and Abraham finally had a child together… Isaac. When he grew up he married Rebekah. Rebekah had two sons, Jacob and Easu, she didn’t just slightly meddle in the lives of her sons, she interfered and it cost them all dearly.
- Sarah: Abraham’s wife took after her husband, she was incredibly faithful, she left her home and followed her husband all over the countryside – it can’t have been easy. Faithful as she was she couldn’t quite believe that she would ever have a child, let alone be the mother of a great nation. In fact when she heard about her impending motherhood she laughed about it.
- Eve: Let’s not forget the first mother, the mother of all mothers… turn out she ate forbidden fruit and got her family and all subsequent families ejected from Paradise. She went on and raised a son who killed his brother, I know she didn’t do the killing and she must have been devastated. Not exactly the picture perfect image of the mum that we are aiming to be.
And the Se7en + 1th mom…
If you look at these moms, all of them had failings of one kind or another. And we don’t know too much about their parenting styles or their discipline techniques. In fact we don’t know much beyond what was the cultural norm of the day. What we do know is that they were far from perfect. God has chosen to use these far from perfect moms to paint a picture of motherhood for us. None of these moms appear to have been terribly glamorous or about to win “Mothering award of the year.” Not exactly the shining examples you would see gracing our parenting magazines… Not exactly the experts that would be publishing multiple “How to be the best parents ever” books.
Now I know culture and circumstances in Bible Times were very different to the times we are living in now. But these were the mom’s of the day. Frankly I am so grateful to God that when he wrote about mothers in the Bible he showed us these moms. He showed us real moms, with real issues who made real mistakes. There was no fluffing up or pretending they were more glamorous than they were. I have a feeling that these mothers were all too aware of their mothering failures and yet they kept on faithfully, they did do their best and I am willing to bet you they had to hold a few hands as little people drifted off to sleep. I bet you that they had their fair share of sloppy wake-up kisses and little people saying I love you.
So while I am all for celebrating and rejoicing in the everyday, I am a bit weary of mothers day… which appears to be about mothers being far more awesome than they actually are. Maybe I am super lucky, because daily my kids might toss an “I love you” in my direction or leave me little creative offerings on my keyboard and they freely supply me with hugs. For me that is love enough, I am just so thrilled that they want me to be part of their world… thrilled that they want to tell me their hopes and dreams. For me that is more than enough!!!