The Vulnerability of Mother’s Day
We were all born to a mother, in vulnerability.
I remember well watching a film of childbirth in a childbirth class, when I was seven months pregnant with my first child. I was shaken and I remember telling my doctor, with a mixture of jest and fear that I didn’t think I could go through with it. But of course I did, and after three difficult births and deliveries, my own mother pleaded with me to stop.
There is that severing of the umbilical cord at birth, symbolic in many ways of that first separation. That picture has been useful to me as I sat with my own mom at her deathbed, with my sisters as we accompanied her on her final journey on this earth. And it felt like an emotional umbilical chord was being severed as we let her go, singing lullabies to her, in her final sleep.
I have used that symbolism with many as I have sat with children with their dying mothers. That is the sacred work I am honoured to be part of as a chaplain.
The strong connection we feel to our mothers and our children has an emotional impact. The longings we feel, the joys we experience are part of the very fabric of our lives. I heard once that the deepest pain and the greatest joy are part of being a mother.
In all honesty, I find Mother’s Day difficult and I know I am not alone. I think of disenfranchised grief, the unspoken longings and pain of many who feel this intensely, and it is salt in the wound as we are exposed to the many advertisements on the perfect gift for the perfect mother.
None of us who are mothers can live up to the lofty ideal we see portrayed from many sources. We struggle with own own humanity, our own failures, as we also long for better things for our children.
For many of us, our moms are no longer with us and we miss them. There are those who are disconnected from their children. There are those who long to be mothers. There are those who have chosen not to be mothers, but feel the societal pressure. There are those whose children are in prison, and there are mothers who are imprisoned. And there are those who deeply grieve the death of their children. Whether this loss is by miscarriage, a child, or adult son or daughter, this is a grief that doesn’t go away. And there are more…
The Pandemic has increased the challenges as we struggle with isolation, and in many families disagreements on how to respond to health orders. This is painful for all.
Letting go seems to be a common theme for mothers from birth to end of life. We can’t control what happens but we can love with abandon and even fierceness at times.
I was drawn today to Psalm 139 with its wonderful imagery of God as a mother, a protector. Even in the dark, and I think of the womb, God is with us.
It is Gods comfort I am drawn to, a place of protection and peace, a place of unconditional love.
I do give thanks for my mother and those who have been like mothers to me, mentoring, praying, listening. I give thanks for my children and grandchildren.
I pray for those who are struggling, who are separated from their mothers or children in these challenging times. While we can’t dial the phone to heaven, we can reach out to those around us, assuring them of our love, even if we can’t be together.
May you be comforted, and blessed this coming week.
Excerpts from Psalm 139:
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, ohGod!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.