– both my kids used me as a human napkin without my permission; apparently my shirt makes a good substitute for wet wipes or paper napkins
– my son insisted on repeatedly wishing me “Happy Father’s Day!,” with a gleeful, evil, and self-satisfied smile
– my three-year-old daughter refused to stay seated at the table over today’s lunch at the Indian buffet- this, when we had to sit right next to the family with the two perfectly polite children who quietly ate their lunch and watched us parents bark exasperated orders to our progeny
– my son endured another couple of tearful piano practices as if he were being sent to the gulag and I were the heartless Soviet commissar sending him there
– in some rather strange show of six-year-old male affection, my son tried to wring my arm out of its socket at least three times
– I served yet again as my daughter’s sherpa: she often insists on being carried only by her mother (a dubious honor) and usually at the times when I’m already carrying grocery bags or walking two dogs
These travails all seemed worth it when I opened our front door at the end of a work day to see my little brood standing there holding a ginormous Mother’s Day card and, in unison, wishing me a early “Happy Mother’s Day.” On the front of the card was a cut-out head photo of yours truly, superimposed over a Superwoman outfit. (Every so often it’s nice to be told “sweet, little lies” by the folks who love you.)
But, on a more serious note, I’m still remembering something I heard earlier this week on NPR. It was one of those StoryCorps recordings- this time a conversation between a daughter and her mother, before her mother died. The daughter was remembering for her mother, who recently had been diagnosed with Alzheimers, the time when she had left for college: the mother had taken the daughter aside to tell her that if she ever found herself in a bind or in a bad place, no matter the circumstances, she (the daughter) should never feel ashamed going to her mother for support. The daughter, now a mother herself, was remembering this exchange as the most touching display of her mother’s love, one that she hoped to emulate in her relationship with her own children.
Not all of us have had mothers like this. But I can’t help but wonder whether that kind of maternal solidarity is how God relates to us. “As a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,” is how God in Jesus seeks to be with and protect and comfort His people, Scripture says. In other words, no matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done or failed to do, there will always be shelter for you under the wings of a loving God.
And, maybe the greatest display of love we can give in response- as sons and daughters of this God- is simply to return to that nest where Mother waits, to be held for a while gently but firmly beneath those wings, next to the warmth of that beating heart.
Happy Mother’s Day!