I'm aware that my mum is not perfect, but she is someone I can trust and depend on. She is the one that I ring up regularly when I just need to hear a friendly voice on the other end of the phone. Just this week she came over and cooked our family dinner while I took the kids to soccer training.
So today was my opportunity to let her know that I appreciate what she gives to me. And I did do that, along with being richly blessed with loving gifts and cuddles from my own children. But I was reminded of the complicated nature of motherhood in a number of ways today, too.
Today I talked with a friend whose mum has died, and listened as she recalled some precious memories of her mother - calling her 'darling' as no-one else could and watching their favourite TV show together. Bittersweet feelings, being reminded of a precious but interrupted relationship.
I also thought today about friends who have not been unconditionally cared for by their mothers. Friends whose mothers have failed to give them the acceptance, support or encouragement that they needed in their formation as people. For some, Mothers Day is a reminder that they would rather not experience.
Then, today, I sat with someone close to me who yearns to be a mother but has been struggling with infertility. Her life and marriage have been overwhelmed with the cost - both emotional and financial - of IVF. She has experienced sorrow, loss, disappointment made sharper and more bitter on Mothers' Day. She has had 2 close friends have children in the past month, and I, myself, sit beside her with my 3 month old, 4th child. This is a woman who likes to plan and loves to serve and care for people. Yet, here she is, totally helpless to make the deepest desire of her heart happen. And I know that she struggles to delight in others' children because of the deep disappointment they remind her of.
Parenting/mothering is a deep human desire, and so totally out of our control. We are especially reminded of that when we cannot have a child despite our own desire and effort. Only God can bring a human life into being, and we sometimes forget that when our 'plans' for parenting go smoothly.
Sometimes I need to be reminded of just how much I have to be thankful for - a positive, present mother of my own, and the chance to mother my own children. And I pray for comfort and hope for those who find Mother's Day painful or confronting for any number of reasons.
Praise be to our God, who can encompass both joy and pain comfortably, who walks beside us, knows us intimately and loves us deeply.
And thanks Mum.