It's the Mother's Day card aisle at Target, and I'm not picking out a card; I'm watching people. I can't help it. I'm a woman of nuances, of details, and of observing moments that may go unseen. There are women of all ages crowding this aisle as I survey the scene stealthily. I'm reading their expressions and the look in their eyes. I'm guessing at the collective thoughts in the cluttered dialogue bubbles swarming over this aisle.
"Maybe not this one...it's too sappy."
"Wish I could say this of my mom."
"This is one I wish I could receive, but I haven't been this inspiring, this loving, this encouraging."
"How about a funny one--to keep it light."
"I'm not sure we see our relationship the same way..."
"I want to honor her and tell her I love her, but my mom really wasn't all these things to me."
"There's so much I need to say to my mom, but it's just so hard to say it sometimes."
"What kind of card do I need to get to make her happy, so she won't be disappointed."
These thoughts begin to form...
Mothers so often measure themselves and their own mothers through the lens of idealism and performance. Our feelings about mothering waver between pride and failure, feeling confident when we receive accolades, and disappointment when we are unrecognized. We place our value on the work we've done, not who we are. And, somewhere in the midst of those feelings, Mother's Day plays a part in adding or detracting from that view of ourselves, as we seek to acquire balm for our inadequacies, or fuel to our good works.
A relationship with mom is the first one we know, and for most of us, it is the relationship that permeates so much of our ideas of acceptance, love, value, and purpose--for good or for bad. The truth is, we were each raised by faulty, and sinful human beings. And, for those of us who become mothers, we find ourselves excelling in some areas of motherhood and failing miserably in others, but nonetheless proving that we are nothing more than sinners under construction, ourselves.
None of the cards in the Mother's Day aisle speaks the full truth about us as mothers. Perhaps it's time we stop beating ourselves up for not measuring up to the sentiments we wish we embodied. Perhaps it's time for us to stop putting our own mothers on trial when there isn't a card that is honest about the struggles and joys of a complicated relationship. Perhaps we should set aside the checklist of idealistic motherhood, and celebrate Mother's Day by one standard alone: the hope of the new identity we have in Christ as redeemed and forgiven daughters...daughters who, by the grace of God, can and will become more like Christ-- THE IDEAL.
This Mother's Day, it's not your achievement in motherhood --no matter how accomplished-- that makes you more precious to your Savior; you are precious because you are his daughter. It's not how well you are acknowledged that determines your value. You are valued because he has ransomed you. So, Happy Mother's Day...to all of us who are not yet the mothers we want to be, but rejoice in the celebration of the mothers we are becoming in view of the Cross. You are greatly loved.
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