It wasn't long after I had my first babies (I had twins the first go around) that I realized I loved my boys in such a way that they could never reciprocate. Following that line of thought, it dawned on me that I never did nor ever will love my mom the way she loves me. I think it's impossible to reciprocate directly a mother's love. The best anyone can do is to give it to another.
One is not able to define this kind of love simply. Words like sacrificial, unconditional, and persevering, while a good start, just don't fully capture the love a mother has for her child.
This love wants to quit but goes the extra mile instead.
This love wants to lash out but bites her tongue.
This love doesn't want to be bothered but chooses to be inconvenienced.
This love isn't always that interested in the subject being discussed but listens attentively and purposefully replies.
This love messes up sometimes but always come back to ask for forgiveness.
This love. It's not perfect, but it perseveres. It sometimes struggles to serve but sacrifices nonetheless. It doesn't always meet our expectations, but it is unconditional.
I love how one of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, states what I am trying to articulate:
Perhaps there was something more powerful to experience than a perfect Mother: the wonder of a Mother who simply herself.
My own mom has a long record of sacrifice, perseverance and humility. Having born four children from her own body, she gladly made three more her own when she re-married a man who lost his wife in a hit-and-run car accident. Well acquainted herself with the unique pain of losing one's spouse after having to say goodbye to my dad who passed into eternity as a result of cancer, my mom was a good match for my stepdad.
In the midst of profound loss and change in her life, she continued to lay down her life for the good of her children, now all seven of them, equally.
Did she do the mothering thing perfectly? No, and she'd be the first one to tell you that. But, when I consider how many opportunities (and many of them given her by her ungrateful children) she has had to throw in the towel and say, "I quit", yet persevered to love and care for, to repeatedly absorb offense from us, I am amazed and grateful.
After 39 years of mothering, she is not done. She still has one bird in the nest. Just when it seems we are all finally out of her hair, another one decides to move back home. And, truth be told, the day that all her children are officially out from under her roof, one or two of the grandchildren may be old enough and in trouble enough to be sent to live with her then, too.
I tell my mom that she'll be done when she's dead. Does she want to live free of the responsibilities and emotional weight of being a mom and now a grandma sometimes? Yes. I think she does. I do, too, and I have only been doing this mothering gig for only 8 years now. But, she perseveres and gives so much of herself to her family, her very large and demanding family.
If you are a mom, thank you for the ways you sacrifice and persevere.
If you feel like a failure as a mom, know this. You only fail if you fail to get back up again.
If you are a child (ha...aren't we all), give thanks for the imperfect mother God gave you, and try to see and thank her for the ways she has persevered and sacrificed on your behalf even if the only evidence of it was simply birthing you into this world.
If you are childless and don't want to be, consider that the desire to love another as you would a child may not be for one you bear from your womb. Pray that God would grant you that gift, but may I humbly ask you to consider if it may be to a child another woman bore on whom you are to bestow this motherly love?
Mother's Day can be a difficult time for many, but I believe it is still a day worth celebratin. While none of us have or are perfect mothers, we can know the One who created mothers because Jesus died on the cross for all mommas' (and daughters', and sons') imperfections. He then rose from the dead, conquering death, the penalty for our imperfections. And this God--He IS perfect. His love is perfect. It never disappoints. It never fails.