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The problem with Mother's Day

I wrote about Mother's Day a couple of weeks ago, and ultimately deleted it because of a very rude email which I received from someone who didn't like it. To my fault, I was too offended by the comment. I am not planning on letting that happen today.

I have no problem with people celebrating Mother's Day. My problem is what the Church does with it. Now, not all churches do this, but many do. It becomes a religious holiday like Easter or Christmas. Churches who will turn their noses up at Pentecost Sunday will happily add Mother's Day to the public liturgy. And the focus becomes less about God and more about motherhood.

I am a mother, and I love my children. I'm sure when I'm a grandmother some day, I will encourage my daughter and daughters-in-law about motherhood. But I am more than a mother. Every woman is more than a mother. My primary relationship is with Christ. I find it unusual when on the one hand, we tell women to make their primary relationship with Christ first, but then on the other hand, make motherhood a competitor to that relationship. If a Church wants to mention Mother's Day, go ahead, but it becomes like the High Holy Day, and I don't think that is helpful.

One of the worst experiences I ever had was being asked to stand in church on Mother's Day and be applauded for being a mother; for something I was able to be only because of God's grace. And most women I know don't feel like they are worthy of applause. Many of us as mothers have times when we feel like we failed. Who wants to be applauded for that? I'm not a fan of applause of any kind in church (unless it's to clap for a child who is up there singing for a special occasion), and applause for being a mom was awkward to say the least.

Similarly, being told to anticipate my children rising up and calling me blessed bothers me. My desire as a mother is not to have my children rise up and call me blessed (although a phone call and a visit every now and then is wonderful) but rather that my children walk with God. That's all I want for them. Everything else is icing on the cake. To look for applause as a mother is a dangerous game, because not only may we be disappointed, but we are looking for a fleeting reward.

Yet that is what Mother's Day is all about: tell your mom she's great. What part does that have in the liturgy of church? Extending Mother's Day greetings in the service is one thing, but why make the whole thing about mothers? Thankfully, the message at my church yesterday was not about mothers per se, even though the text was from I Samuel 2. It was about finding joy in God, about worshipping him, knowing him. There was something there for everyone, and it was devoid of Proverbs 31 references which only make women feel inadequate.

The problem isn't with Mother's Day itself. It is just another secular holiday that card companies, jewelry stores, and flower shops benefit from. The problem is what we do with it. And when we make it part of the worship service, we're helping the holiday, not necessarily the women in the room. 

And if that makes me a grumpy old curmudgeon, I guess I'll take it. 

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