Monday, May 12, 2014

Mothering Love to Others

I attended church yesterday with my mom, my daughter, and my friend Linda. Linda and I have worked together at the library for over twenty-one years. She's twenty years older than me, so technically she could be my mom, but her youthful personality makes her seem more like a sister to me.

It was a special service in honor of Mother's Day. I was worried about how the brouhaha would affect Linda, who herself was unable to have human children, although she's been a doting mother to numerous furry kids over time. Also, both Linda's mom and aunt passed away in recent years. An only child, Linda has no nieces or nephews to fawn over. I can see how she might resent those around her who can celebrate the Mother's Day holiday with living people. But instead of complaining about her lot in life, she chooses to celebrate with us. She even brought me this beautiful plant as a Mother's Day gift:

I'm not a big holiday person. I don't like to plan things in advance, so I often forget to buy cards and gifts. I rarely even dust the run-of-the-mill decorations we have out in our house, let alone bother to decorate with special holiday items. I think every day should be celebrated instead of making a big deal out of one day of the year. But I understand I'm in the minority, and especially since I had Katie almost eight years ago, I've gotten with the program and mostly manage to at least fake some enthusiasm for holidays. 

As we sat in the pew, I looked around at all the mothers sitting with their families and I wondered what Linda was thinking. I didn't want to make an issue out of it, so I didn't say anything. Fortunately, Linda's an extrovert, so it's not too hard to know what's going on inside her mind.

"You know," she said, "I was thinking about how I never had kids, and I just think God must have planned it that way."

It makes me sad when people say such things. How is it fair that some women pop out litters of unwanted and neglected children, and yet other women, who would make wonderful, devoted mothers, are unable to have any? I know, I know. Life isn't fair. That pisses me off.

"I'm just glad I have Katie for a Godchild," she said smiling wistfully.

"Katie's lucky to have you," I said. "I know what you mean, though. Will and I wanted six kids and my body was only able to produce one. But we're so lucky to have our special girl." I regretted what I said as soon as it came out of my mouth. How insensitive to complain to someone with no kids that you wish you could have more than one.

The music started and the service began. The entire congregation sang at first, and then Katie sang with three other girls her age in the Celebration! Choir. It was beautiful. When their song was over the girls sat down on the chancel steps and other children in the congregation joined them for "Come As a Child" in which Pastor Kimby, herself child-free, talked to the kiddos about the commandment to honor your father and mother. The children were then released to go back and sit with their families in the pews. Katie snuggled in between Linda and me. 

It was time for the whole congregation to stand and say the "Unison Prayer". It was just perfect for the occasion:

Dear God, we pray today for all who share in the joys and demands of motherhood. We pray for mothers in third-world countries who watch their children perish in hunger and who have nothing to give them. We pray for mothers who live with regrets for misplaced priorities, lost opportunities, and alienation born of neglect. We pray today God for mothers who need to work, and who must entrust their children to the care of others. We pray for mothers who are chronically tired. We pray today for mothers, whose children are far away, busy or preoccupied, and who may forget to act on life's gentle nudges. Loving God, we pray for mothers whose best years have been spent parenting, and who now must reassemble their skills for the years ahead. Living God, we pray for all who wish they could be mothers and who give their mothering love to others. Lord Jesus Christ, who in your hour of trial tried to provide for your mother, send your Spirit to bless the world's mothers, and use our hearts and hands to make the blessing real...and all for your love's sake. Amen. (written by Ernest T. Campbell)

When we got to the part about "mothering love to others" I looked over at Linda, put my hand on her shoulder, and we shared a smile. She patted Katie on the knee and kept on praying. We are blessed to have Linda in our lives.