May 8, 2009

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Thank God that motherhood is a life sentence

Cynthia DewesMotherhood is a life sentence. Now, you might think that motherhood ends when your kids are raised to adulthood, but you would be thinking wrong. Motherhood extends to, well, death.

The thing is, your kids find a spouse and produce kids themselves and lo! your maternal instincts kick in as a grandmother. And, written biblically, this continues even unto the following generations of “greats,” “great-greats,” etc., or as long as ye both shall live.

Not only that, but the in-law kids become your own and soon you are getting all motherly about them as well.

Ditto the children of in-law relatives, those of your friends or your neighbors or even those of celebrities or characters in a TV series. It’s like an epidemic.

This is not as dreary as it sounds. Motherhood also makes life livable, as in interesting, exciting, emotional, gratifying, grievous, tiresome, backbreaking and whatever other adjective might apply at any given point. Motherhood is a fact, a physical or psychological state, and a function of being human. It reflects the richness of our life with God, the original parent/Creator.

Mothers have certain skills and talents unknown even to themselves until needed. For example, they have eyes in the back of their heads. That’s how they know that Junior is slyly pinching his little brother or that Fido is sleeping on Junior’s bed without your permission.

They also know that food carefully rearranged on the plate does not indicate that a child has eaten her dinner or that a wet toothbrush means teeth have actually been brushed.

Mothers know by feel whether their child is sick or just faking it. They recognize lies by tone of voice, shifting of eyes or just plain adult logic. They also can tell whether Junior is really scared, bored or enthused by whatever events are at hand. They know where their kids are at any given time.

Mothers can size up their children’s friends with a look. They know who these friends’ parents are and where they live. They are familiar with their child’s teachers. They pay attention to what’s going on at school without demanding unnecessary details or interfering with discipline or doing the children’s homework for them. They do not expect perfection, but are happy with a show of effort, hopefully not faked.

Sometimes mothers do not have the opportunity for biological children of their own so they adopt them. Sometimes they use morally appropriate technology so they may have them. And sometimes mothers are mothers not by biology or technology or even by adoption, but by chance and generosity of heart. Mothers are mothers by God’s design. They are the ones who go on alert whenever anyone yells, “Mom!” out in public.

Mothers do not share the care of their children with serial sexual partners or boyfriends. They are obviously women who don’t see promiscuous sex as an end in itself, without possibility of pregnancy. Rather, they marry men they love and respect, men whom they judge will be good husbands and good fathers. Sacramental marriage with such partners provides them with the chance to participate in God’s creation, with production of babies as the culmination of God’s grace.

Holy Cross Father Theodore Hesburgh, president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame, once said that the best thing a father could do for his children was to love their mother. He was right. And it’s the best thing for the mothers, too.

Happy Mother’s Day, you all!

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

Local site Links: