Since I have become a blogger, basically have three jobs now. My blogging habit is supported by a day job that I love, and my day job habit is supported by my job working as a server. Part of what I do for my day job is to teach third graders about child abuse. How do I do this, you ask? Well…. I, along with a team of a bunch of talented people, use the magic of puppetry. It’s a lot like Sesame Street that comes to your school–only we don’t teach kids about about Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic. We teach them about some pretty sensitive topics to talk to elementary and middle-schoolers about, and we do it really well. There is always a opportunity for the students to ask us questions. I say “us,” but the students are really asking the puppet kids the questions. We talk to kids about a whole range of things: Things like lessons on empathy, awareness of differences, making healthy choices, bullying, prejudice, HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy, organ donation, and my personal favorite…. Child Abuse Prevention. We stay in character as the kids ask us questions like “Were you scared?” or “How did you feel when….” or “Did you know that my cat has eight nipples?” (Some kids are stupider than others).
After the presentation, we review with the kids about some of the stuff they learned–About how child abuse is never EVER a kid’s fault, about how we know that it’s hard to talk about, but it’s OKAY to talk about, and about how if ANY sort of child abuse ever happens to them, they need to tell a grown up that they trust. We then ask them for an example of one grown up that they trust. And you know what? I’d say that about 95% of the time, the first name out of a kid’s mouth when asked to name a grown up that he or she trusts is this: “My Mom.” Usually it’s the second name that they give as well…. Honestly, most of the time, when they finally throw a “My dad” in there as an answer, it feels like it is out of a place of obligation, or maybe out of a place of not wanting to have the same answer as the previous person. And although there are some dads out there that are detached and distant and dumb, I don’t think the reason for this phenomenon is bad dads…. It’s just that there is something so special about moms.
Today at church I was bookended by the most important mothers in my life–The mom who gave birth to me and the mom who gave birth to my kids (aka my wife). Growing up, I never realized what all goes into being a mother. When you’re a kid, your mom is just that person who is always there, who is always ready to listen, who is always ready to give you a little sympathy when you need it, who is the only person you are comfortable enough with that you are okay with her licking a tissue and wiping something off your face. Our mother is where we learn about the concept of unconditional love–That there is someone in the world who loves us simply for who we are, and not for what we do. As a kid, you don’t understand what a big deal this is…. It’s just something that is there that we all take for granted.
And then, at some point in the lives of most men, the most important mom in our lives changes, and we see first hand what all goes into being a mother. Well, even from the front row seat of fatherhood, we only see part of what goes into being a mom–there is a lot of stuff that goes down when nobody else is around. For me, when I think about my wife I am just impressed. I am amazed at the excellence with which she does things with the kids–the projects she finds for them to work on, the patience she demonstrates, the playfulness with them…. It’s inspiring. And it reminds me of something that is very important for me to remember: I couldn’t do what she does. But it’s more than what she does. It’s who she is. There is something magical about the connection between a child and his or her mother that a dad just can’t replicate.
Where would we be without our mothers? I suppose we wouldn’t BE without our mothers, right? Without moms, there would be a whole lot more fat, stinky kids sitting in front of the TV, wearing underwear from three days ago, eating a Krystal Sackful. There would be a lot less parties for the kids to remember. There would be a lot less cool things on the walls of their rooms. There would be a lot less pictures, a lot less organization, a lot less baths…. And a whole lot less love.
I think about Mother’s Day as a celebration of everything about women that makes the world a place worth living in. There are all kinds of Mothers out there who don’t have any kids right now (for one reason or another) that carry with them this same magic–this ability to listen and care and nurture and wipe away tears and teach and whisper when everyone else is yelling. Some of those mothers are waiting to have kids of their own, and some of them may never have kids, but the heart and the value of what it means to be a mother is buried in every woman, and it brings a peace that is always needed. So let’s take some time today and thank God for the wisdom to know that the world needed women/mothers–For more than just their ability to be encouraging and nurturing and hard-working and lovely and patient and strong and understanding and compassionate and trustworthy and even being able to transform a house into a home. Our mothers show us, more than anyone else, what it means to be human. And thank God for that.
So on behalf of all the sons and brothers and husbands and men–Thank you to all of the mothers and sisters and wives and women for putting up with our crap. Thank you for softening things. Thank you for making everything more beautiful. And thank you reminding us how to love when we forget (as we often do). Happy Mother’s Day!