Mother's Day at Church
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. A lot of women love it. Some find it a complicated day. Some men and women think it’s a scary day because they don’t know what to do and don’t want to make anyone upset. As someone who cherishes and adores my mother and is a mother, too, I agree it’s a tricky day and one I have complicated feelings about. Church is the part of the day I feel the weirdest about and I know some of that is just on me. Things are different everywhere based on Covid restrictions right now but here are some of my thoughts about this day based on years gone by.
If you’re someone who is giving a talk or lesson in church on Mother’s Day, my advice is to feel free to express gratitude and tell good stories about your mom or wife (I love a good story) but don’t exaggerate things or generalize unrealistic qualities that are supposed to be about all mothers. “She never raised her voice. She always ate the burnt toast. She never ate the last cookie! In 40 years she never once bought herself new clothes. She could make a five course dinner out of mustard and a handful of dandelions!”
I love it so much more when I can see the imperfections. I even love to hear about redemption and forgiveness and what can still be hard about a tough mother/child relationship and how God can help. All of that can be illuminating and uplifting.
Another thing to maybe avoid, is to make jokes about how you’ve never changed a diaper in your life because ew, that’s gross and beneath you and how do you undo those sticky flaps??? But the beloved woman in your home is the best at that and totally qualified to do it. That’s just not funny to anyone except the guys. The other really sad side of this is that I once saw a man get up to the podium on Mother’s Day and he bitterly wept about how he wishes he could be a bigger part of his children’s lives but he can’t because he isn’t a mother. I felt so sad for him and wanted to run up to him and tell him he could start today to talk to his children, sit on the floor and play with them, call them on the phone, really all of those things, and it won’t make him less of a man. His children would be so blessed.
I know church is for learning how to do better but maybe save the “you are falling short of all you should be doing to be a good mother in this fallen world” for a different Sunday.
I know this is controversial but I feel uncomfortable when we say all women are mothers. Some women are very heartbroken not to be in this life. Some feel guilty about not feeling ready to be one. Some people had a bad relationship with their mother. This is a topic to be careful about.
I go back to believing the best tactic as a speaker on Mother’s Day is to be real and say thank you. Hopefully it’s not the only day of the year you say this to the women in your life, so it should be something we all know how to do.
I acknowledge that there might be some women who love all of the things above that I dislike. We are complicated beings.
Now, what if you’re a mom or woman at church on Mother's Day? If you love the talks/brownies/flowers, etc. say thank you.
If you don’t love it, try to give the speaker/giver the benefit of the doubt. This is a complicated day and it’s probably impossible to give everyone exactly what they want. I’ve heard some good talks on Mother’s Day that I’ve liked. Some are just okay but as we have covered, it's tricky.
If there’s something that really causes pain for you as a mother or woman in the congregation, I think it’s okay to discreetly leave. I’ve done this before. There’s a Mother’s Day video made by my church that is often shown at this time of year that I just don’t like. I know others really love it and that’s great but I quietly slip out while the lights are off. I don’t raise a fuss about it. I enjoy the sunshine outside and spend a few moments to myself.
The last thing I want to say is that there are things I do love about Mother’s Day. My kids make hilarious cards that I love. Joe cooks dinner. My mother is still living and I get to talk to her on the phone. All of this is very special to me.
My parting words here are that as mothers, kids, husbands, church leaders, humans, most of the time we are doing the very best we can based on our culture, the way we were raised, etc. Let’s show each other gratitude for what we do right and gracefully learn when there are things we can do better.
I send love to all on Mother’s Day.