As I was thinking about Mother’s Day I thought about all the things my mom has taught me. I’m sure your mother taught you many things also. My mom taught me to appreciate a job well done when she would say to my brothers and me, “If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.” My mom taught me about religion: “You better pray that’ll come out of the carpet.” My mom taught me logic when she answered my why question with, “Because I said so, that’s why.” Mom taught me irony: “Keep crying, and I’ll give you something to cry about.” And the number one thing my mom taught me was justice when she told me: “One day you’ll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you!”
Mother’s Day can be a difficult time. For some, it brings back some memories of a wonderful mom who is dearly missed. For others, it reminds them of a mom who was and still is, well, difficult. There are some you can never please, which can make it hard to decide what to do.
Moms aren’t perfect. Maybe that will take some of the pressure off some of you moms here this morning who don’t meet your own expectations. You’re not expected to be perfect.
In our bible story, Solomon is confronted with a difficult situation it appears. While the passage tries to make him out to be the star here by highlighting his wisdom, we all know the real hero is the living baby’s real mom. She was willing to sacrifice her motherhood for the life of her child. In order to be a mom she had to give up being a mom. This perfect sacrifice is like Christ’s sacrifice who gave up life in order to claim eternal life, who gave into death in order to give us life. Solomon knew what real moms are made of and determined who she was from her willingness to give her baby away.
You have to be willing to give up some things to be a good mom, and a good dad. Personal sacrifice is a pivotal part of motherhood. It begins by sacrificing her own body by carrying her child around in her womb for nine months. Our mom fed us, nourished and protected us with her own body before we saw the light of day, before she saw us. And that was only the beginning.
They keep on giving. You give up sleep for midnight feedings. You take your child to practices, school events, social events even if it means taking up time you could be spending on yourself, and even if it means more
work for you. You get less sleep because you make sure your child is taken care of when sick. You get up earlier to make them breakfast and get them ready for school. You stay awake later going over homework, or getting clothes ready, or worrying when they will get home.
Such giving reminds us of God who gave us life first, who loved us first, who called us first, who treasured us first, and who keeps his eye on us still. As scripture says, “…neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 8:38-39
And sometimes not even bad guys can separate mom from child. Deborah Kemp’s six-year-old daughter, Ashley, was in the back seat of her car sleeping. As she was pumping gas, a man jumped in the driver’s seat and began to pull away. Desperate Deborah grabbed hold of the door and steering wheel and held onto the moving car as she was dragged for several blocks. “I wasn’t trying to be a hero,” she said later. “I was concerned for my baby…that was part of me in that car.”
Kemp eventually managed to grab the thief, pull him from the car. The driverless car went out of control and smashed into a restaurant. Ashley and mom were both safe.
Most of the time, we don’t realize the sacrifices our mom makes. Do you know why? Because they never tell you! If you find out at all, it’s usually years later. Why don’t they hold this over their children? The answer is simple: Love.
Because “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…. (Love) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
There are some stories of love so powerful it’s tough to believe they’re true—and yet they are.
During the Holocaust, Solomon Rosenberg, his mom and dad, his wife and their two sons were arrested and placed in a concentration camp. The rules were simple: As long as they did their work, they were permitted to live. When they became too weak to work, they would be exterminated.
Rosenberg watched as his own father and mother were marched off to their deaths and he knew that his youngest son David would be next because he had always been a frail child. Each evening he came back into the
barracks after hours of hard labor and searched for his family’ faces. When he found them they would huddle together, embrace one another and thank God for another day of life.
One day he came back and didn’t see anyone of his family. He finally discovered his oldest son, Joshua, in a corner sobbing and praying. “Josh, tell me it’s not true.” Joshua turned to his dad and said, “It’s true. David wasn’t strong enough to do his work. They took him away.” Solomon then asked, “But where’s your mother?” Joshua could barely speak and finally uttered, “When they came for David, he was afraid and cried and so mom took his hand and went with him.”
Love is the greatest power in our lives.
One of the greatest gifts a mom can give is a sense of unconditional love. Children should know that as they shoot for their dreams even if they fail they won’t be loved one bit less. Such a perspective makes children less afraid to fail, more apt to believe in themselves, and less willing to connect their sense of self-worth with whether or not they succeed.
It’s not always easy to have enough energy to give so much. Some people simply have more in their emotional/physical gas tank than others. It’s better to keep quiet and preserve your energy for building up your children than it is to expend the precious fuel on tearing them down.
It’s obvious that children tend to mirror their parents, or a parent. Perhaps the reason adults finally grow up when they start to have children is because they realize somebody is watching, and imitating, and becoming like them. When we see we’re actually a role model and an example for little ones we love it tends to sober up a lot of men and women.
If you’re generous, your child will probably be generous. If you’re big-hearted your children will probably be big-hearted. If you like other people, and therefore people like you, then your children will also tend to have people like them. Such power moms have. What an incredible gift God gives our moms for good.
This power for good that begins even before her child is born and continues for years into her child’s life is unlike anything else in all creation. It’s this staggering influence of a mom on the life of her child that makes me wonder about something in our country.
I don’t know if you know this but when Australia passed a parental leave law in 2010, it left the U.S. as the only industrialized nation not to mandate paid leave for mothers of newborns. In fact, in at least 178 countries
around the world paid leave is guaranteed for working moms, while more than 50 countries provide wage benefits for fathers. The United States, along with Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and Liberia are the only countries in the world that provide no type of financial support for mothers, according to a study done by McGill University’s Institute for Health and Social Policy.
I am not sure why this is. Why is the U.S. the only nation of almost forty industrialized countries not to have paid maternity leave, and one of only four countries in the world not to do so? The list of countries with paid parental leave is staggeringly long, and it includes some nations we probably wouldn’t assume would be in the group of those who mandate maternity leave. They include Yemen, Cambodia, Syria, Myanmar, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq, and China. Obviously all of Europe, all of the Americas, all of the Asian countries, and all but two countries in Africa keep their babies with their moms and many with their dads for a significant period of time at such an important point in life.
Why does this incredible country not do so? It can’t be because we believe there’s a biological reason that it’s better this way. We certainly don’t hold it’s better for our newborns to be separated from their mom and dad soon after birth.
Christians can’t argue there’s a scriptural reason why we don’t have parental leave, as if God would ever be on the side of infants and their moms being separated soon after birth and newborns be placed in child care as soon as necessary.
Neither can there exist any longer a legitimate economic reason for refusing nationwide to support keeping mothers and/or fathers together with their infants. After all, all around us are countries that have instituted parental leave and their economies haven’t crumbled or even sagged.
But as surprising as this is, you know what’s even more surprising to me? It’s that American moms are not pushing for maternity leave. It’s surprising and strange that financially supported maternity leave isn’t even a conversation in the life of our country. It’s at most a whisper. Why aren’t moms and dads advocating for parental leave? Why are we so far away from where the rest of the world is when it comes to recognizing how important the mother/father-infant connection is to the health of the newborn, the family, and ultimately the country as a whole?
We shouldn’t be. This should change and we should support keeping moms together with their precious babies better than we do presently.
Happy Mother’s Day to you, moms, to my mom. Happy Mother’s Day for all of us who remember the good gift of life our moms gave us, and all the other gifts she passed on as well. Can anybody say Amen?