Sunday, May 11, 2008

Wife Rule #46: Mother's Day Rules!

Late last night my wife remarked, "I love being a mother! I'm glad tomorrow is Mother's Day."

Hear, hear!

I love Mother's Day too. I am fully aware that there are many (perhaps even most) mothers out there who end up feeling guilty in one way or another on Mother's Day. If you are one of those mothers, or if you happen to love Mother's Day like my wife, then this Wife Rule is for you.

Let's establish some Mother's Day rules to make the day a little more pleasant for all of us. First rule: Mother's Day is for gratitude, not guilt. Say it with me, ladies: "GRA-TI-TUDE." Not guilt. Three syllables. Not one. Got that?

"But how can I feel gratitude," you ask, "when every other mother out there is perfect and I'm not? When they all cook like Rachel Ray and decorate like Martha Stewart and sing like Mary Poppins and nurture like Mother Theresa and sew like Betsy Ross and raise children like Abraham Lincoln, the Pope, and David Archuleta, and the only thing I have in common with any of them is that I sometimes feel like I'm doing hard time behind bars in this horrible, cramped, Camp Cupcake of a life that I live and WAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

Quick, somebody call the waaaaaaaambulance. Stay with me. Breathe, breathe, easy, good. Gratitude, not guilt, remember? Let's all be grateful that Martha was eventually released. See, that feels better, doesn't it?

Okay now that we're done hyperventilating, let's move on to the second rule: Mother's Day ain't about you, sweetie. What? you respond in that tone of voice. You husbands out there know the tone I mean. The you-bought-me-a-table-saw-for-my-birthday-and-now-I'm-going-to-use-it-to-open-your-thick-skull-and-see-if-we-can't-find-some-common-sense-in-there-somewhere tone of voice. The tone of voice Miss Piggy always takes just before she karate chops another Muppet out of the scene.

But I'm serious about this rule; it's essential to get this. You see, Mother's Day is a Universally Applicable Holiday; that means that it's important to everyone. "How can that be when not every female out there is a mother?" you point out. "Much less, the more obvious problem that about half of everyone out there are males, and will never be mothers, due in part to the fact that they would never survive the pains of childbirth, yet they whimper and whine when they get a common head cold, the big babies?"

Those are good questions. But they're really irrelevant. Except for the one about us being babies. See, all of us were babies at one point, and that means that all of us have a mother. Get it now? While Mother's Day may very well be about you to the rest of us, for you, Mother's Day is to honor and remember your own mother.

In saying this, I'm not just trying to get out of buying my wife a present, either. What I'm trying to do is to get all of us in the proper frame of mind to enjoy the sermons at church today about great mothers, and for you mothers out there, to enjoy any recognition given to you by your own admirers. Because in remembering your own mother, you can begin to understand exactly why you deserve the praise too.

I'm sure that not every mother out there is perfect, and it follows that not everyone in the world is anxious to honor their mothers today. But if you have at least one ounce of gratitude for any aspect of your present condition of living in this world, perhaps you can see that without her, there wouldn't be any you. And getting you here wasn't any tiptoe through the tulips, either. Just ask her; she'll tell you all about it.

And that brings me to the third rule: motherhood is next to divinity. There isn't any higher, holier calling in life than to join with God in the creation of life. There is no more selfless act of love than to willingly walk through the valley of the shadow of death, literally laying your life on the line, for the sake of giving life to another. On Memorial Day and Veteran's Day we honor our war heroes, those who risked everything for our freedom. On Mother's Day we honor the unsung heroes we each have, who quite literally put themselves in just as much danger, just as much pain, and gave just as much a sacrifice, as those who fight for our lives on foreign soil. Our mothers own the home front.

Thankfully, like our veterans, most of our mothers survived childbirth. But for those who did, the sacrifice of life has just begun. Their sacrifice is an ongoing battle, constantly pitting their own comforts and desires against the tender cords of love that pull them out of selfishness and bind them to their children. Several years ago, my wife's mother got a startling glimpse into the sheer scope of these maternal bonds when her mother-in-law, over seventy years of age and somewhat crippled with the effects of diabetes, announced that despite the considerable pain involved, she was determined to get up and get to the local ball court, because "my boy has a basketball game, and I'm going to watch." Never mind that her boy was over 50 years old.

Yes, our mothers offer their very lives, imperfect as this offering usually is, for us.

It is so similar to the offering made by the Son of God, in so many ways. The life-giving blood that nourishes and protects an unborn child against disease reminds us of His atoning blood's power to spiritually nourish and heal. This blood binds the mother and child together as one, just as the blood of His covenant binds us to Him. The sanctuary of water that houses the unborn child reminds us of the waters of baptism, both a tomb and a womb we enter into, in order let our sinful life end and come alive again spiritually. The act of birth, so intense with pain, reminds us in some small way of He who trembled because of pain and whose sweat was as "great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44) as he prayed for us in Gethsemane and bled for us at Golgotha.

Considering all that mothers do, is it any wonder that He has used the imagery of motherhood so many times to teach us of the tender, patient, loving attitude he has towards us, His children?

So today, on Mother's Day, I hope you'll join with me in honoring the mothers in our lives. Let's stick to the rules. My wife always does, and she loves Mother's Day. If you're tempted to cheat, just remember what Mom always says: If you can't play by the rules, then there's too many cooks in the kitchen, or something like that. Well, you know what Mom always says anyway. Today, it's your job to remember her.


Lindsay said...

I read this post in the morning before church. THANK YOU! I think it probably changed my whole day. I felt gratitude and might I even say joy for motherhood. My joy was probably enhanced by the post-Sacrament chocolate too.

All day I also have been thinking about Brooke's comment. "I love being a mother." I wondered if I love being a mother. Certainly I am glad I am one. I love my children. I don't want any other job. But do I LOVE it? I'm not sure I know the answer to that yet but I really am glad you caused to ponder the question.

Anyhow, I just wanted you to know that I really appreciated your thoughts.

LuckyMatt said...

I'm so glad you liked my little thoughts, Lindsay. All of us on the fatherhood side sure depend on you mothers!

Jenny and Al said...

Thanks, Matt. I read the little "booklet" before I went to bed last night and loved it.

Amy said...

Thanks for this. I also usually have a bad Mother's day because I expect too much, but my friend mentioned at church that HER mom said that she loves Mother's Day because she's so GRATEFUL to be a mother. So I think the gratitude goes both ways, both for our mothers and for our children, who make us a mother.

I had a fantastic Mother's Day this year.