To all those who feel guilty on Mother’s Day
Some marvelous women I know stay away from church on Mother’s Day because they feel guilty about all the praise heaped on mothers. They feel like they don’t measure up to all those perfect mothers out there.
I can relate. I often feel bad that I’m not the perfect mother.
I’m the mom with the shrill, piercing voice at tennis matches whose son finally asked her to quit cheering. I embarrass my children? Oh. My. Heck.
I am the mom whose toilets sometimes have strange mold growing in them and whose storage room hasn’t been dejunked since the Bush administration—that’s Bush #1.
I am the mom who feeds her kids (or rather lets her kids feed themselves) Hot Pockets for breakfast, after-school snack, and before-dinner snack and makes them Nutella and peanut butter sandwiches for lunch. I forget about the spinach in the fridge until it gets slimy and starts to smell bad.
I am the mom who says the wrong things at the wrong times and makes my kids mad and sad and confused. And sometimes they laugh at me.
A few years ago, I went camping with a group of young women from my church. As a part of the camp adventure, they gave us the opportunity to run a challenge course. Part of the course involved climbing up to and walking across a high pole and then riding a zip line to the ground. Well, I am afraid of heights. Ridiculously afraid of heights. I got about six feet off the ground and froze. I couldn’t climb up, and I couldn’t climb down. The young women looked on in horror as one of the camp volunteers tried to talk me down while I bawled like a baby.
Once I managed to make it down to the ground, I was so embarrassed that I continued crying for half an hour. Trying to console me, one friend told me that she didn’t mind heights, but she was deathly afraid of public speaking. I have absolutely no problem performing in front of a crowd. I thrive on it.
That conversation made me think of all the mothers I know. Some are great cooks. Some have immaculate gardens. Some think up darling hairstyles for their daughters. Others manage to vacuum more than once a month. Some have compliant sons who wouldn’t dream of growing hair on their faces. And some can eat all the junk food they want and stay skinny. We all have different strengths and weaknesses.
The problem is that we compare ourselves to each other mercilessly. We are envious, even threatened by other people’s talents. And we usually compare our weaknesses to other people’s strengths and wonder why we can’t seem to get our act together to pull off a Martha Stewart Thanksgiving.
Well, you know what I think? I think comparison is Satan’s little trick to get us to be jealous of others and down on ourselves.
“There are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt—and certainly not to feel envious—when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are really in is the race against sin, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those. Furthermore, envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving. Obviously we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know!” Jeffrey R. Holland
So, the challenge today is to be happy about who you are and to be happy about who Martha Stewart is and don’t beat up on yourself because you are not Martha Stewart. Be grateful that whole prison thing didn’t happen to you. Be happy to be the mother or father or aunt or friend that you are. No one is exactly like you. You are unique, and because of that, you can uniquely bless other people’s lives.
Deep down, my son loves to hear my piercing voice cut through the crowd. Yep, I’m going keep on cheering at tennis matches and soccer games. I haven’t been kicked out yet. Martha would be so proud.