Do you ever feel like you are not being the mother you should be? That your creativity is lacking, not to mention your patience or grace. That the Christ-centred nurturing that is supposed to come standard issue at time of delivery has malfunctioned, or worse yet, never kicked in in the first place? Do you fear that your children will remember your “mommy time-outs” more than they remember the encouraging words, prayers before bed, lullabies or the smell of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.
Tonight was classic. I took the time to sit with my kids, I made them popcorn, did Jakob’s reading for school and then it was time for bed. We brushed teeth, we had a story and then as I tucked them into bed, we began to pray.. I said the Lord’s prayer and explained to Jakob (and Ella) that this is how Jesus taught us to pray and that he needed to learn it. (Note: I was feeling quite good about all of this, especially because Ben was off conducting at Churchill College so, like most Sunday nights, I was flying solo)
“Repeat after me, ‘Our Father who art in Heaven'”
silence. Jakob is pretending to sleep with a little grin on his face.
“Come on. Our Father….”
silence. grin persist. eyes flutter
“Jakob! Come on, I know you aren’t asleep…repeat after me. I want you to learn this!”
silence. Patience has come to an end, a battle of the wills has begun.
“Jakob! Repeat after me or you can go to sleep right now!” Like come on?! What kind of a threat is that?!
Moments like these are all too familiar lately. After two months of comings and goings, company, trips and the first and most important of Ben’s Cambridge exams, I have found myself, in the last week, either completely exhausted or aching for time to read, to write and to think. I have been absent, perhaps not in body, but in mind and spirit, leaving my children sitting idle in front of The Cat In The Hat and me feeling completely inadequate. But who of us mothers, or fathers for that matter, haven’t felt that way at one time or another? Even as I reflect on my own mother: the one who is always at the other end of the line when I am up in the middle of the night with a migraine, the one who is always slipping money into my palm and the one who is always my biggest cheerleader, no matter what crazy idea I have come up with this week.
I am sure there are times….I know there were times when she, as a single mother, felt inadequate – felt that she wasn’t doing enough, providing enough or there enough. But here I am…hopefully not too screwed up. Sure, I remember the low moments but I also remember the high moments and I know that when my mother felt inadequate she prayed that God would cover us with grace. Because nobody is perfect. No matter how often we read Proverbs 31, we will never measure up. And even if we come close, ultimately, our children could still be led astray – I seen it many times. “Perfect parents” whose children make wrong choices or have mental disorders which spiral into a sinful and corrupt life and all they can do is helplessly pray.
Look at Eve. The first mother. I am sure that their banishment from the garden was discipline enough to ensure they lead their boys in the ways of the Lord. But instead, we read about the first homicide in history.
Or Rebekah, mother of Jacob and Esau. Her favouritism was no secret as she helped Jacob secure the birthright in exchange for something as petty as a bowl of soup.
And then there is Bathsheba. The temptress who seduced King David, only to birth the wisest King to ever live.
I could go on. Surely Mary, mother of Jesus, felt inadequate at times….or all the time. But this did not deter her. To borrow from Solomon, “A perfect [mother]? Who can find?” No one. After all, we are still being perfected, yes, even us mothers. But God is in the midst of it all – the sleepless nights, the spaghetti stains and the worry. Lot’s of worry. Because when you become a mother, no matter what the means, you give your child a part of your heart. You ache when they ache, you cry when they cry and you rejoice when they rejoice and this is what makes it all worthwhile.
To all the mothers out there, and especially my own: Happy Mother’s Day.
Keep her while she’s living, you’ll miss her when she’s goneLove her as in childhood, though feeble, old and greyFor you’ll never miss a mother’s love, till she’s buried beneath the clay.Thomas P. Keenan