Wednesday, May 17, 2006

amen to that

While I still have Mother’s Day on my mind ... I was looking at the RevGals' blog (which I found thanks to another friend's blog) and found this post from the weekend.

Sue, one of the RevGals (a group of mostly clergywomen and other vocation-discerning women who do the blog together) writes:
I have some personal issues with the celebration of Mother's Day in churches. It is a greeting card holiday, not a religious one. More important than that, however, is the heartache of the folks in our pews who feel left out of the "aren't Mother's wonderful?" celebration. Not all mothers bring back fond memories, and not all women can become mothers. My policy is that I will not preach on the topic of mothers, but I will add mothers and women into the pastoral prayers.
And then she has a prayer, which includes these lines:
God, we thank you for mothers...for those who would like to be mothers but cannot... for those who have lost children through death or circumstances... for the women in our lives who are like mothers to us... and for a better world for girls to grow up to be mothers if they so choose.

Bless all who gather this day for worship and praise, for we ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
Amen. As some of the commenters in my Sunday post pointed out, Mother's Day can be painful for many women. Why don't churches get that? Some do, of course. But there are others — and I've been there — that have mothers stand up and be recognized or come forward for roses, the ones who devote an entire homily to motherhood even though it doesn't really tie into the Scripture readings. One woman I know, who has had three miscarriages and one adopted baby taken away because of a legal snafu, says the church community can be a real source of pain when it emphasizes the "gift of children" as "a blessing for good, moral living — the implication being that we must be cursed."

Of course mothers deserve to be celebrated, although Mother's Day sometimes reminds me of Valentine's Day - hyped-up "greeting card holidays," as Sue writes. The thought of jacked-up flower prices and commercials for diamond earrings just makes me cranky. But if there's going to be a day (and I do admit mine felt pretty nice this year), and if churches are going to take part in celebrating it, there are better ways they could do it. For instance: Let's honor all the people who play out the role of mother in our lives - friends, sisters, brothers, mentors and bosses, even total strangers who came along when we needed them. I love my mother, but I also have been incredibly cared for by people who are not related to me. (I'm thinking of you, Jo Ann.) Women (and men) who have no children at all have been known to nurture others and guide them like the best "moms" we know. (And let's not forget that God mothers us incredibly.)

Besides, if we really want to do something meaningful for mothers, I'd think we'd want to raise real issues: How do we make daycare more affordable? How do we go about establishing enforceable standards to make sure it's safe and decent across the board? How do we give more women access to flex time at their jobs so they don't feel stuck with limited options? How do we make it socially acceptable for fathers to take their full allotment of parental leave and flex time, just as mothers do? How do we make sure all women have access to affordable health care? How do we stop the petty bickering between working moms and stay-at-home moms so we can come up with solutions to these problems?


liz said...

Amen, sister. Couldn't have said it better myself.

Susanne said...

Oh Em, this brings tears to my eyes. Like Elizabeth said, "Amen sister; couldn't have said it better myself." I especially like the bit about some churches "not getting it" in terms of keeping a lower profile on Mother's Day. And Sue pointed out something else, which is that some people may indeed have or be a mother, but have painful experiences with their mom or child, making their Mother's day as painful as those who struggle with childlessness.

Oh Emilie, this is the most thoughtful post I've read from anyone in a long time. Sorry to make a cliche, but it's posts like this that convince me of what a GREAT MOTHER YOU'LL BE!

Liz p. said...

Well Elizabeth stole my i'll echo it with

Preach it sister!