Upon my weekly, actually sometimes daily, ritual of going to Walgreens and Target, which are both a block from my house, I couldn’t help but get caught up in all the Mother’s Day merchandise that was now on sale. Wow, so many things were not purchased for that special person who we all refer to as Mom. I immediately glanced over at all the greeting cards that had a big red sign over them that read “half-price.” Hmmm. I wondered what did one card say that inspired someone to purchase it versus these sad unselected ones that were screaming out, “Buy me; I’m on sale.”
Apparently each card left on this sale rack did not convey the message of Mother’s Day to the person reading them. So, I spent a moment or two checking out these leftovers. Each message that I read was rather bland and certainly didn’t stir me and apparently didn’t evoke any emotion in the ones who had come before me either. Each card definitely had its own appeal. However, I would not have selected them for anything other than one of my kids’ school projects! They were pretty much generic catch phrases or a corny poem that wasn’t working. Some were well wishes from across the miles and some were to the best mom in the world, featuring a trophy with a blue ribbon on the front of the card. I’m really glad no one bought that bad boy!
My mother always requires a special card. It always has to be the Big Kahuna of cards, the commander-in-chief card. She has extremely high expectations. The 99-cent card would absolutely not do it for my mother. So, as I looked at all these unselected, unloved, Mother’s Day cards, I was curious if this past Sunday had been memorable to the mothers of the world or to the ones who have acted as a mother to so many? I know from personal experience that you don’t have to carry children for nine months to love them or to be a mother to them. Love can grow in your heart just like it can grow in your stomach.
I began to hope that this past week people took the time to seek out those people who might not have birthed them but have had an impact on their lives. Was it a grandmother, an aunt, a sister, a next door neighbor, a best friend’s mother, a guidance counselor, a foster mother, a boss, a teacher, a Bible study leader, a mother-in-law? Who was it who instilled confidence in you when none was there? Is there a person whom you failed to acknowledge last Sunday, someone who knew even though you always looked like a beautiful, graceful duck swimming elegantly across a lake and yet on the inside you were paddling like crazy to stay afloat? Who is that person who always desires the best for you, encourages your dreams and hopes right along beside you?
We don’t have to limit the “mothering” list to just one. It does not have to be the lady who carried you around for nine months. That really was nothing more than a mode of transportation! Mothering is an all-encompassing word! It is a little bit of this and a little bit of that. A mother is one who raises you, teaches you, feeds you, inspires you, lets you know when you are being difficult, challenges you to be better, soft-pedals your wrong doings and loves you unconditionally. Did that list mention anything about giving birth? No, I don’t think it did. As humans we have a need to pigeonhole everything and wrap it up in an explainable package. There is not enough wrapping paper in the entire world to wrap up the who, how, why or when you are called upon to be a mother. Every time we encourage someone we give him or her a shot of mothering. Keeping someone balanced in this difficult world of ours or helping someone reclaim joy or renewing someone’s perspective when that person thought that was not possible…that is mothering.