Mothers, Who Needs Them?

I heard on the news about a private school in California where the children will not be allowed to make Mother’s Day cards. The reason given is that there are many children who do not have mothers raising them. Perhaps

their parents are divorced and they are in the custody of their fathers. Perhaps their mothers have died. Quite possibly they are being raised by two men. The leaders of this very sensitive and politically correct school want to make sure that no child is put on the spot with the ‘culturally conditioned’ expectation that ordinarily a mother and a father is needed for the raising of a child.

It was for more than mere pragmatism that moved God to give women the unique ability to nurture and nourish a child both before and after birth. It wasn’t simply because we had not yet come up with incubators and baby bottles that God built in that capability. God intended women to have a special and irreplaceable relationship with their children-because they would be the ones called to nurture and care for the life of their children who would be completely dependant upon them. Just as she said ‘yes’ to that new life from the moment it began to take shape within her womb (seconding God’s own decision); just as she affirmed that life every time the newborn child cried out in hunger or discomfort; so she is intended by God to be the first image of God’s tenderness and care in the life of her child.

Through their mothers children first begin to imbibe the Faith and values that will form the basis of their relationship with God and others. Certainly fathers also have a key role in this early nurturing and formation but it is not so immediate. In many ways the father’s role is complementary to that of the mother.

Psychologists tell us that fathers are separate and distinct individuals in the perception of the child. They are to the child awesome, allpowerful protectors as well as their judges. It is not at first clear to children that they are separate and distinct from their mothers. Mother is their other self. With mother they are complete. Little wonder then that our mothers always have a special place in our hearts.

Many today are finding themselves in this exalted role by surprise, as it were, without adequate preparation and without the benefit of marriage which God intended to be the context of motherhood. I have a great admiration when women in this situation do not attempt to undo their ‘yes’ to life but rather seek out adoptive parents who can assume the parent’s role after the child is born. It is a gut-wrenching decision that clearly expresses the selfless nature of a mother’s love. Adoptive mothers, for their part, are mothers in the truest sense. Motherhood in its deepest meaning certainly has an irreplaceable biological aspect but it is more than biology; it is about more than eggs and gestation. It is about an unconditionally committed love.

I, for one, feel very grateful as we celebrate Mother’s Day that my mother so generously accepted this challenge. She said ‘yes’ to my life day and night, whenever I was in need. That ‘yes’ extends to this very day. She has been my first teacher about the ever present and abundantly generous love of God.

Happy Mother’s Day!



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