I can be cranky because now I’m a Mom

Well, the readers have spoken. My Mother’s Day rant it is.

First, before anyone gets offended, I am exceedingly grateful to my own Mom, my fabulous grandmothers, my aunts, my great-grandma (who I had the privilege of knowing until junior high), my mother-in-law, and all sorts of other women in my life. Often, I forget to send them cards, but this is just because I’m unorganized. Oh, and also, if you go to my church, in spite of this rant, I would still encourage you to participate in the Youth Group Mother’s Day Carnation fundraiser. I know that’s inconsistent, but I’m a postmodern woman.
Even though I love my Mom, when it comes to Mother’s Day, and especially Mother’s Day and church, I get a little cranky.

Heidi, you nailed it. This is one of the holidays when my cranky-inner-Calvinist surfaces. You see, good old JC # 2 (John Calvin: Jesus Christ would be JC # 1) was none too keen on the way that holidays often invaded church. I’d say the whole uber-Calvinist frowning on the liturgical calendar thing was a little much. But the secular holidays are a different story. I’m not discriminating against mothers. Father’s Day, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Superbowl Sunday (I give a little pass to Thanksgiving since we need to thank SOMEONE for the the semantics of the day to work correctly, and to MLK Day since that man was a preacher).

And a little nod to the day is one thing, but when everything is structured around the holiday, I find things a little odd. For one thing, Jesus did mention once or twice that God was our first priority. Sometimes the celebration of motherhood verges into the territory of “in praise of the perfect Mom.” And, honestly, after the near-neglectful state of my mothering yesterday (I just needed some down time…), I’m not sure I could hear that well. My guess is all Moms have days like this. And here’s where things get really uncomfortable: there are always, in a congregation, some people for whom the celebration of motherhood gets painful: loss, broken relationships, infertility, abuse, etc. Have you ever seen the Mother’s Day thing where the kids give carnations to “all the Moms out there” and there’s inevitably one or two women who get left out and wind up teary? (And the solution of “giving all the women” a flower never really did it for me. It was just weird when I wasn’t yet a Mom and I got a flower.
On top of all that, the consumerism of the day just gets to me: buy Mom stuff!! Or, better yet, just let Mom hit the sales on her own.

However, here’s one more disclaimer: since I joined a mainline denomination, I’m just a little more comfortable with Mother’s Day. In more conservative denominations, where there’s often some debate and discomfort around feminine imagery and language for God, there can be this odd disconnect between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. On Mother’s Day, there’s a focus on that fabulous (and impossible) woman in Proverbs 31. On Father’s Day, you get a good overdose of the God/Father metaphor. But I love, that in the new denomination, I’m hearing more and more of the God/Mother metaphor, and no one comes careening into the pastor’s office loaded for bear after this comparison.

So, go ahead and send your Mom a card, celebrate the day, and, of course, buy your carnations for the youth group fundraiser. BUT, don’t forget to keep God (not your Mom) at the center of your worship service, and be sensitive to the needs of the people in your congregation for whom motherhood if a painful or uncomfortable topic.

(Oh, and Erik: thanks for the silicon baking sheets. They are lovely.)

One Response to “I can be cranky because now I’m a Mom”

  1. ppb Says:

    I hate mother’s day in church. I take it off every year. There is nothing more painful to me than church being yet another place where “real women are mothers.” And that’s just my thing…there are also the one abused or abandoned by their mothers, the women who miscarry, the women whose mothers have died. We are so, so, so, sensitive in church about everything else. But mother’s day seems to be the day when we think it’s okay to trample on people. Father’s day becomes dad and God the father. But mother’s day? Argh. let me go back to my coccoon.