Column: Celebrate the depth of a mother’s care

Mother’s Day is coming on Sunday. I sometimes wonder about giving Mother just one day out of the year. Maybe we could stretch it to a month, like National Poetry Month or Women’s History Month. That would be nice, but I’ll take the day.

Mothers are really what makes the whole system of society work, but because this is so obvious we tend to bypass the importance of Mother in our world. Do you realize that every person on this planet has a mother? Do you recognize that we all come into this world through our mother’s acceptance and love of the nine-month task ahead? Do we appreciate the many hours of care she has given us? This is to say nothing of the hours of worry and anguish we may have caused her over the years, yet she loves us, holds us dear and still wants to know why we don’t have our jackets on in cold weather, or why we don’t call her more often!

The task of the mother in our modern society has changed. Women have become more independent of the home and childcare. The elemental task of a mother is care, it does not change. I realize that there has been criticism of how we are brought up, that we impose gender on a person rather than the biological traits developing our gender. But I tell you as a mother myself and having two boys and two girls, for many children, gender is obvious. Boys love to tumble and roll, girls like to talk and care for their dolls. I can’t get into heavy scientific studies; all I know is what I have seen with my children. But I can tell you a scientific fact, that there are male brains and female brains.

Science has established that male and female brains are wired differently. The female brain has more receptors for communication. The brain is wired from the start for dealing with human interaction. The female brain is also noted for focusing on details this can be very helpful in the case of multitasking. Communication, the ability to multitask, and the care chip are, in short, a woman’s world.

I have thought about this and when I think of my own life and raising small children it becomes clear. Care and love are the most important things a mother does. The world of small children is a world where communication is often a cry, a shout, a tired child having a meltdown; it can be exhausting, but the mother has to deal with it.

Care takes in the small world of the child – tantrums and good days of long naps. It is a small world of conversations, only a few words long. Somehow mother negotiates the world of infants, toddlers and early childhood.

It is when the child gets older that I feel the mother is needed most, the guidance stage where there is a delicate balance between parent and teen. Teens want to grow into adults and join the world; it’s an awkward time for them and a trying time for Mothers to know how and when to guide their children. But guidance is needed more than ever before. “Where are you going?” “Who are you hanging out with?” “What’s on your phone?” “Your teacher called, let’s talk” and “Where are your boots?” These are the communications a mother uses in a day but look closely, it is about care.

As a teenager/young adult, most children don’t want to hear their mother’s voice, lesson or lecture. What is interesting is that by the time they reach about 28, they begin to see the care and wisdom of their mother and wonder how she got so smart.

Mothers have no boundaries; they are the same the globe over. They care for their children, they worry about their safety, and they want their children to prosper in the society they live in. They all grieve the same when their child is hurt, beaten or bullied. Where she lives is not important, the child and their welfare come first.

To be honest, in our modern society, these concepts seem to be slipping away. Many young couples today are deciding not to have children. The wife and husband find the pleasure of life without children more to their liking. I can understand this, being a mother is a tough and demanding job. But what they do not realize is the depth of caring for a child creates a bond with the future and a set of experiences that deepen your understanding not only of yourself but the dynamics of life. We are meant for others and children are part of the journey. Yes, it is hard sometimes, it is difficult for it takes time and focus to say nothing of the heartaches it can bring, but the love received and the love we have given in this life, is all that we get to take with us when death comes knocking.

The richness of motherhood is a grace to all mothers, a gift to the child, and a blessing to the community. It is why we were created to witness love itself; a mother does this every day of her life.

God bless all mothers everywhere!

Kathleen Carlton Johnson, Ph.D., is a hospice chaplain.


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