By David Hegg
My father-in-law was a hero, although he never thought so himself. During World War II, he was part of a flight crew that flew several very dangerous sorties and accomplished some missions that had cost crews on previous attempts their lives. He was awarded some high honors whose emblems found their way to a little jewelry box his kids never saw. Only after I married his daughter and pried some stories out of him did the heroic nature of his service come to light for his family. But he never thought of himself as anything other than an ordinary guy who was asked to do his duty.
Today we celebrate the many ordinary women who have dedicated their lives to a kind of heroism that is seldom noticed, and seldom celebrated. While the news will highlight the corporate gains, athletic achievements and political successes of women, you won’t see any front-page space dedicated to the women who decided to forgo other opportunities to birth, nurture, train, guide, instruct, discipline and love their children while planning, maintaining, managing and organizing a home for them in which those children found the provision, protection, affection and acceptance necessary to their physical, social, spiritual and emotional maturity. Yes, that’s a long, run-on sentence, but it aptly illustrates the magnitude of being a mother. You just can’t explain motherhood succinctly. Nor can you dismiss it easily, though many today are trying.
But here’s what I’ve noticed. Women are taking center stage, playing title roles, and being highlighted as tough, fierce and certainly no pushovers. The entertainment industry is writing scripts for the new breed of female actors to show that a woman can be just as tough, just as nasty, just as mean, and just as kick-butt as any man.
So here’s my question: Why, in their desire to show women as fierce, bold and accomplished, do the vast majority of these roles have the woman taking on male characteristics? Is the point that, in order to be taken seriously as a woman who is tough, bold and accomplished, a woman has to act like a man?
If so, we’re really missing the point. Show me a woman who is under control, delightful, kind, compassionate, smart as a whip, and I’ll tell you that is a strong woman, a successful woman, and a woman who not only gets things done but also does them in a way that fosters relationship and respect. Come to think of it, that woman would be a great mom.
Motherhood isn’t a job. It’s more an identity that overtakes a woman when she brings a child into this world. It is an identity many scoff at and belittle, as though growing a business is more honorable than growing a person.
So, here’s to the mothers of our day. Thank you. For all the times your love and care go unmentioned, and seemingly unnoticed, thank you. For all the good things you’ve done only to be punished for them by ungrateful children and an arrogant society, thank you. For the countless times you’ve found joy in the ordinary, behind-the-scenes tasks that are necessary to keeping a home happy and healthy, thank you. And for the tears, and the prayers that persevere when those you love walk the road of disappointment, thank you.
And here’s a special thank you to those mothers who, due to the unexpected torrent of circumstance, are both mother and father to their kids. Thank you and press on. Press on knowing your efforts are not in vain. Press on because you can change the trajectory of your kids’ lives and change the future the past is heading for. Press on knowing that your kindness, love and discipline are what they need to become the healthy, loving and productive members of society we all want them to be. And press on because you will find nothing more satisfying that watching your kids graduate from college, marry well, and understand their place in this world. And believe me, one day you will hear their adult sentiments of gratitude. One day they’ll get it, and you’ll be thankful you gave it your all.
Every time the political season rolls around we start to hear once again about a “war on women.” Unfortunately, the war most talk about is nothing compared to the societal disdain too often aimed at women who decide to stay home and raise their children. Here’s my question: How come those who champion a woman’s right to choose to kill her baby don’t cheer equally for those women who choose to not only have their babies, but also dedicate a prime season of their lives to raise them well?
Today on Mother’s Day I am the grateful husband of the best mother I’ve ever known. Though extremely talented and well-educated, she counted it a privilege to stay home, manage that home, and fill it with happy, well-mannered, creative and energetic children. And now that the kids are grown and gone, my wife is enjoying the manifold returns on her years of investing in them. Here’s to you honey.
There’s only one thing left to say. To all you Moms… Happy Mother’s Day! We’re all better because of you!
Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.