A Mother’s Day Reflection
By: Angela Tuttle | Last Updated: 05/10/2012 08:38
My life looks nothing like a Mother’s Day ad. This time of year, the newspaper is brimming with glossy pages from local department stores showcasing beautiful mothers interacting quietly and peacefully with their beautiful children.
The ads often feature muted photographs with pastel backgrounds. Mothers throw back their heads in ecstatic laughter at the sheer joy of being in the presence of their obviously gifted children. And the father (fit, tan, and back from his day at work as the president of a multinational corporation) is always looking on happily as he grills, wearing a crisp sport shirt and khaki shorts.
I’m not sure what I expect out of these ads. Realism? A picture of my own grape jelly-stained children and me with bags under my eyes and a stringy ponytail?
From the time we are little, we have been fed a notion of motherhood that is sweet and serene and wrapped in a pink satin bow. No one mentioned to me, before I became a mother, that between my own lactating and newborn Jacob’s spit up, I would likely smell like sour milk by the end of each day.
Our church sometimes adds to the myth of perfect mother, perfect child. Statues and paintings of Mary never show her in the midst of dealing with toddler Jesus in a meltdown. Yet Jesus, arguably the best sharer of all time, once had to be taught to share himself. And Mary, perhaps exasperated after an afternoon of watching little John the Baptist and Jesus together while her cousin ran errands, was his likeliest teacher.
It can be tempting to pretend to be that perfect mom with the perfect kids in the ad. With the right outfit and a pasted-on smile, no one has to know that your 6-year-old lies and your 10-year-old swears.
But I believe that when we look at a child struggling with a particular behavior, we need to keep in mind that there are adults with that same problem. If we can help our child move beyond lying or cheating at 6 or 10 or 15, we have given that child a gift much greater than if we had just pretended everything was fine.
This Mother’s Day we can take a moment to change our mindset about what good parenting “should” look like. In recognizing that change and growth necessarily arise out of difficulty, we can better embrace the parenting challenge we are dealing with right now.
—by Annemarie Scobey from the pages of At Home with Our Faith