So it is mother's day tomorrow and Hallmark is going crazy. At this time of year we start out with the flattery and idealised statements.
Mothers are the one person who can substitute for anyone but nobody can substitute for. I'm guessing I don't get an RDO then. Not only do I have to be Mum to my sons, I also have to be Dad, girlfriend, wife, child, grandparent - basically every significant relationship in their life as needed too. I DON'T THINK SO.
God couldn't be everywhere, so He created mothers. So I need to be God now, no pressure there at all I am sure I can live up to that one. Excuse me while I go and rock in a corner and gag uncontrollably.
At times like these I remember that Anna Jarvis, the woman who initally campaigned to make Mother's Day a nationally recognised holiday in America, spent her family inheritance campaigning AGAINST what the holiday had become.
Now don't get me wrong, Mother's Day is an excellent opportunity to recognise and affirm mothers. The Bible often recommends affirming women verbally and publically. Proverbs 31, for example, asks that we "Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." (verse 31) but the Bible also has a few words to say about flattery. If you flatter someone you "Lavish insincere praise and compliments upon (someone), esp. to further one's own interests" If my kids were to give me a card saying "To The Perfect Mother" I would accept it in the spirit intended of course, but I would also be thinking "suck up!". Because nobody knows better than them my imperfections as a mother.
The truth is, not one of my children will grow up without scars from what I did or did not do. Motherhood is a daily invitation to step up, be a better person, make good choices and grow and heal my own heart. And I don't always RSVP in the affirmative. I fail. I pray that when the appropriate day comes, I have the humility and compassion to be able to fully and completely apologise for my short comings and failures, of which I have many.
But the good news is: God CAN be everywhere.
He promised me once that nothing will happen to my children that He and they can't handle together. I am not everything to my children and I do not have to be. To tell me that I am is flattery and a curse.
For me, sincere praise must be true, specific and measured. "Mum you are the best cook in the whole wide world and everything you make is magic" vs. "Mum, thanks for putting the extra effort into that dinner tonight, I really liked the potatoes done that way." The first is flattery, the second makes sure those potatoes get cooked often and makes Mum real warm and squishy on the inside.
So tomorrow, if you are going to praise your Mum, please make it real. I would prefer my children recognise the real blood sweat and tears that I put into raising them than they go for the hallmark syrup.