(Interesting collection of homemade Mother's Day gifts courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Prayer for Mother's Day, by The Reverend Leslie Nipps
On this Mother's Day, we give thanks to God for the divine gift of motherhood in all its diverse forms. Let us pray for all the mothers among us today; for our own mothers, those living and those who have passed away; for the mothers who loved us and for those who fell short of loving us fully; for all who hope to be mothers someday and for those whose hope to have children has been frustrated; for all mothers who have lost children; for all women and men who have mothered others in any way--those who have been our substitute mother and we who have done so for those in need; and for the earth that bore us and provides us with our sustenance. We pray this all in the name of God, our great and loving Mother. Amen.
--from "Women's Uncommon Prayers," p. 364, ©2000, Council of Women's Ministries/Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church U.S.A.
I might seem like an unlikely candidate for touting Mother's Day, but here I am, doing just that.
After all, I have no children. It's highly unlikely I'll have any at this point. I've never been pregnant. I am not exactly oozing with street cred here.
I also do not exactly have a reputation for being "gooshy" about Mother's Day. Truthfully, I'm historically uncomfortable about it, but I'm historically uncomfortable with most holidays when it comes to "hype" vs. "reality." A lot of the gooshy stuff I've been reading on Facebook this weekend has, truthfully, made me go, "Oh, gag me."
But if you haven't already dissed me at this point for lack of credentials and are not already mousing towards the "back" button on your browser, stick with me for a few minutes. I'm going to challenge all that.
I've decided this year, "Actually, I like the concept of Mother's Day, in a more modern sense; and maybe what has made me feel icky about it has been the things we have historically beatified about it."
Historically, we have wrapped Mother's Day in pink, flowery, delicate feminine "ideals" that were, frankly, created by a male-dominant society. We've honored "feminine virtue" (read: submission and passivity.) We've honored women whose spirits were martyred by oppressive aspects of society. And frankly, we've honored women for the physical act of birthin' babies, no matter what the situation in which those babies are birthed, or what happens after they are birthed..
But here's my radical thought...
What if, instead, we embraced Mother's Day for every form of "mothering" and "birth" we can possibly comprehend? What if we accepted that there are also men out there who have "mothered," just as there are women out there who have "fathered?" What if, instead of celebrating fecundity and passivity, we used the day to honor the diversity of the divine mothering qualities of God? What if we simply made the tent bigger?
I have always felt weird in churches that did things like give all the mothers corsages, or long stemmed roses, or had a special "prize" for the woman with the most children, the most children attending church with them, etc. Not because I wanted a flower (believe me, I didn't,) but because I often found myself feeling sad for the women who had miscarried or were trying to get pregnant, without success, or the women who have kids but they are estranged from them. My thoughts wandered many places-women in prison or women with children in prison, women whose children have died, women who don't even know where their children are. I was always relieved that Trinity-Kirksville didn't get too into that stuff. We have so many single women, divorced women, women in odd or hard places when it comes to "mothering." I have always felt grateful that I have never felt "excluded" in church on Mother's Day since coming to Trinity.
But I'm excited about Mother's Day this year. I'm excited to look around the pews and simply think of all the ways many people in our parish are "good mothers." We now have a female priest--a "spiritual mother." I'm relaxed in my own odd relationship with my own mother. It's not the typical mother-daughter relationship--but it's what it is, great in some spots, awful in others, and better than okay in the bulk of it. I'm okay with my role as "dog mother," "long-eared equine mother," and "medical student/intern/resident mother" (and frankly, I think I'm a pretty darn good mom in that last category.) Like all mothers, I'm not perfect, but I'm always improving.
I realize when I make the tent bigger for this, I feel inspired to give more of myself to be of help in a broken world where mothers struggle.
I'm ready to celebrate motherhood on a new, grand scale. Are you?