On Mother’s Day at 5:00 a.m., I was jolted awake by a bang on my bedroom door. Everyone knows that Mother’s Day is a day to let a mother “sleep in” and feel pampered. So I ignored the bang and sank down further under the covers.
BANG! BANG! BANG! “Mommy!” a tiny voice screamed at the door.
No, this couldn’t be happening. Didn’t my kids get the memo?
“Mommy, I need your help. My bed is all wet,” cried Nate, my four-year-old.
As he opened the door, a familiar, unpleasant smell barged rudely into my room. It was last night’s dinner in reverse.
“Did you throw up?” I asked incredulously. Clearly my child was not getting this whole “pampering” thing.
“Yes,” he whimpered.
I brought him into his room to assess the extent of the damage. Still half-asleep, I couldn’t bring myself to turn on his light. Somewhere around his bed, the terrain became “unstable,” and my feet quickly reminded me that you should never step into potential mine fields in the dark. My eyes finally adjusted to the glow of the nightlight, and in a blue-tinged haze, I saw the gruesome carnage of his stomach’s battle with last night’s dinner. The damage was extensive, an ominous start to my special day.
Flash back to yesterday’s devotional reading. I had been lounging in my overstuffed chair, sipping hot tea and reading about facing problems with the right attitude. In retrospect, it’s a lot easier to face problems by reading about them in a comfortable chair while drinking tea. The actual battlefield is a whole different story.
My devotional had recommended thanking God for problems. But I must confess that I did not face the vomit-fest with a hearty, “Wow, THANK YOU, Father! I am so very THANKFUL that this happened so you can teach me to rely on your strength in my moments of weakness.”
I think I uttered the slightly altered version, “WHY ME?!!!”
I had plenty of time to analyze my response while cleaning. Donning my worn pair of rubber gloves, I was outside spraying down Nate’s things with a hose and scrubbing them with a hard brush.
“Happy Mother’s Day to me,” I sang. My boys watched from the open window and gave constructive criticism on my cleaning job.
“You missed a spot in the corner,” offered Luke.
Nate was thrilled to discover what he thought was my biggest problem. “I know what you need for Mother’s Day! New rubber gloves!”
Later on the boys added to the festivities of the holiday by fighting with each other. That’s when I realized that I had unrealistic expectations about this holiday. Contrary to what Hallmark would have us believe, Mother’s Day is not a day when our children magically transform into angelic beings for twenty-four hours. It is not a day for children to bow down and worship at Mommy’s footstool. Any holiday that focuses on selfishness is going to fail. Mother’s Day should be a holiday for mothers to reflect on how thankful they are for their children.
I thought about Hannah from the Bible. Her soul yearned for a child, and she poured her heart out to God for deliverance.
1 Samuel 1:10-11
In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD.
And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty. If you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life…”
God gave Hannah baby Samuel. She kept her word, and after Samuel was weaned she brought him to be raised by Eli the priest in the house of the LORD. She was so thankful for her son that she was willing to part with him and give him back to God.
Here is a mother who was not waiting for breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. In fact, her Mother’s Day came once a year when she expected nothing, but rather gave a gift to her son:
1 Samuel 2:19
Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him….
God then blessed Hannah and gave her three more sons and two daughters. I’m sure she had days where her kids got sick and even fought with each other. But she was a thankful woman indeed.
The more things that went “wrong” on my Mother’s Day, the more I laughed and thanked God for my three children. They are certainly not perfect angels, but they are my gifts from God. If kids were supposed to be perfect, they would be born with halos. Instead, they come out of the womb crying – a much more realistic picture of the days to come.
I never want to forget that like Hannah, I also had once prayed for children, and these imperfect-yet-wonderful kids were the answers to my prayers.
That’s all I really need for Mother’s Day. And maybe a new pair of rubber gloves.