Today is Mother’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate motherhood, whether you have one, are one, hope to be one some day, or maybe you’re just an awesome friend to someone else who is a mother. Having a great support group is one of the ways we moms cope with life and its challenges and rewards. So no matter what role you play, celebrate the day and I hope it’s terrific for you!
Growing up in the deep South, there are a lot of customs that are perhaps unique to living in the “Bible Belt”. One of the ones that I always found humorous as a kid was the way my church honored mothers on Mother’s Day. Of course, the service was centered around what it meant to be a mother. Usually there was a gift for every single mother in attendance. Some years it might be a flower (a carnation or a rose). Some years it was a bookmark (usually imprinted with some scripture on it). And then the fun part started…they would query the crowd and ask for a show of hands for three categories: youngest mom, Mom with the most children, and oldest mom. To help speed the process (and I can hear my own uncle’s voice in my head as I write this, since he often was in charge of this part at my grandparents’ church), he would say “Do we have any mothers here younger than 25?. A flurry of activity followed, as there were usually several ladies who fit the bill. Then he’d narrow it down, “Okay, how about any mothers younger than 24?” and so on and so on until only one hand was still raised. Then she received a special gift to honor her.
Then they moved on to the number of children. “Anyone here today with more than 4 children?” and so forth. You get the idea.
Finally, the last category was oldest mother. Usually he’d start with 80, and go from there. My own grandmother won this prize several times, as she lived to be almost 98 years old. My sister and I were always so excited the years she won, and we wanted to see what her prize was! Was it a box of candy? Or maybe some perfume? In truth, it was usually some sort of Christian literature, such as a daily devotional book or a book about being a Godly mother. At the time, my sis and I felt like it was a little bit of a gyp, and we’d have preferred the candy! But Granny always admired whatever it was and was thankful.
Let’s move forward to the present day. Yesterday my sister and I shocked our mother by going to a church sponsored Mother/Daughter Tea. She was excited beyond words when we said we’d go. OF course, she is very smart, and used reverse psychology when she proposed the idea. Rather than just ask if we would go with her, she said late Thursday night, “By the way, the church is having a mother-daughter tea on Saturday, but I know none of you is interested in going. But Sister Brenda (as I said, I live in the South, so everyone in church is known as Brother this and Sister that!) said it was all right if I had to come alone.”
Well, how much of an immediate guilt trip is that??? I couldn’t possibly have said, “GLad you understand how to live with disappointment, because you’re right. I don’t want to go.” No, instead I said I could probably make it. After I told my sister, she was more than willing to go too, just to make Mom happy.
Well, the surprise was on us, because it was an absolutely lovely experience! The room was decorated beautifully, with gorgeous bouquets on every table. The table linens were all in soft shades of pink and green. The spread of food rivaled some of the nicest wedding receptions I’ve been to. And all of mother’s friends acted like we were celebrities when they met us! It is obvious that my mother does love to talk about her family all the time. And one of the neatest ideas I thought was that each mother had been asked to bring her own personal favorite teacup from home to use for her hot tea. I loved that idea! It was fun to see what each lady brought, and some of them even shared the story behind where the cup came from, if it was special.
The ah-ha moment, however, was when we came to the end of the tea hour, and the wife of the senior pastor stood up and announced, “We have some prizes we want to give out today.” Bam! Instant memory blast, taking me right back to those church services of my childhood. Yep, you guessed it, they were going to honor the oldest and youngest mothers. There was a little competition on youngest mother, with it coming down to two ladies. Diplomatically, the pastor’s wife didn’t choose between them – she gave them each a gift.
Then she said, “And now it is time for the oldest mother. And I think I know who it is without even asking.” My sister and I had already started scanning the room, and settled on one table across from us that appeared to have two obvious candidates. Imagine our surprise when the woman made a bee line straight to our table and handed a beautiful gift bag to our mother!!! How could that be? We don’t feel old. How can our mom be? And I have to say she certainly LOOKS much younger than either of those other two ladies. But just to be sure, she was asked to reveal her age. Mom stood up proudly and said “I’m 79 and next month I will turn 80 years old.” There was an audible gasp from some of the ladies. As I said, my mom looks so young for her age (and with no plastic surgery or botox, I might add). But she won the award fair and square. We were proud of her, and know we are so blessed to have grown up under her guidance and with her loving voice always there to teach or reassure us. I will soon be 50, and I still depend on it at times! Some days only your mama’s love can make things better!
I’m glad she won her first award as oldest mother, and I hope it’s just the first of many, many more, because that means I’ll have her with me for many more years. And guess what – the gift she received was even awesome! It was a pair of salt-and-pepper shakers, each in the shape of a small bird. How great is that?
Happy Mother’s Day to all.