The Mother's Day sermon at church yesterday was given by a mother of 3 young children. She started her sermon with a letter she had written to her children. This letter started out, "I don't care if you are happy." She went on to explain that although she loves to see her children happy, her goal as a mother is to raise her children with good moral character and Christian values. And if she has to make a decision that will make her children unhappy but ultimately leads to strengh of character and instilling Christian values, then her choice will not be her children's immediate happiness.
That is what makes motherhood hard. I could go through each day, doing only what will make my children happy in the moment. We could watch hours of Dora, eat nothing but fruit snacks, buy any toy that caught their eye, and indulge in a world of selfishness and immediate gratification. We'd have less tears, less resistance, less unhappiness. But that's not my job. My job is to teach my children how to look outside themselves. To be thoughtful and kind. To be gracious and thankful for the blessings they have been given. To develop patience. I need to instill the values of hard work and perserverance. They need to learn the importance of education, of family, of faith. And teaching them these lessons is my job, whether or not it makes them happy in the moment. As the mother stated in her letter, this is not the time to be friends with our children. But if we do our job now, when our children have grown into the people we are hopefully teaching them to be, then friendship can follow.
I am lucky because I have grown into a woman who considers my mother one of my closest friends. I am so thankful that my mother put in the hard work of motherhood when I was a child. Although my childhood was very happy, my mom did not shirk her parenting responsibilities to ensure my happiness. She was firm. Consistent. Unwavering in her love and support, but also in her rules and expectations. There were times that this did not make me happy. But now I know that she did it for me. She faced my tears, my outbursts, my sulking , my anger because she knew the kind of person she wanted me to be. It would have been easier for her to give in, but she didn't. She took on the hard work of motherhood, and in the process taught me the lessons that have shaped me into the woman, and mother, that I am. And what a great gift that is.
Thank you, Mom, for not caring if I was happy in each moment. Thank you for caring more about the person I would become. Thank you for setting a wonderful example for me of what a mother should be. Thank you for now being not only my mother and my role model, but also my friend.
Happy Mother's Day!