May is an important time for celebrating accomplishments—graduations, music recitals, sports competitions. But I want to especially highlight motherhood here because May is also the month we celebrate motherhood— and mothers matter!
Culture has lost imagination for how important a mother’s role truly is, and yet even in this brave new world we live in, it is no less true that, as William Ross Wallace wrote in 1865, “the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” When we understand that a mother’s influence will shape the minds, hearts, values, souls, and faith of the next generation, we will celebrate her role indeed.
Instead of sharing from my experience as a mother, I give you my daughter Sarah. Her words on a recent Mother’s Day spoke so dearly and deeply to me. Here's an excerpt:
We just don’t seem able to manage a Mother’s Day together, do we? Well, in your absence and decidedly in your honor, I have a story to tell. Perhaps you’ll think it an odd one for a tribute to your motherhood. A workaday tale it may be, but in my mind it is a bright, unfading gem.
For what you gave me one Texas morning almost twenty years ago remains a grace that forms the bedrock of my heart. Memories don’t get much better than that, odd or not. Here goes. I stood with munchkin nose pressed hard against the back door glass. Outside the skies tumbled and fought, the rain fell in torrents for the fifth day in a row, and the roar of newborn creeks called me even through the panes.
Behind me you gathered books and pencils for a morning of homeschool, switching on the lamps to battle the outdoor gloom. But even as you did, the boys slipped beside me, glued their noses to the window too, and when you called us we turned three small, grieved faces away from a world that seemed tailor made for splashing and exploration.
“Aw, Mom,” we groaned, timid but yearning for that alluring realm beyond. “Can’t we just go outside and explore today?”
I still remember how startled I was at your yes. The way you were silent for a second, took a deep breath, pushed the books aside, and put your hands on your hips.
“Old shoes and old clothes on before you go,” you ordered, and we hastened for our gear, grabbing boots and jackets, hearts pattering in elation at this wholly unexpected day. We were back in two minutes, and behold, so were you. A tiny jolt touched my heart at the sight of you decked in scuffed shoes and old jeans, intent upon joining our expedition. I hadn’t expected that the queen would lead the adventure.
You were, of course, the same queen who would also wash the several loads of muddy clothes resulting from it, mop up our boot prints on the kitchen floor, and defend our bedraggled state to my grandmother when we returned. (It was her house, after all.)
But I was too little to know all of that. All I knew was that your presence hallowed the adventure. And ah, there was so much we longed to show you. Out we tromped into a world all a whisper, the air tingling with the rain, the sky swift and changeful as the rivulets below.
In an ecstasy of abandon we jumped in every puddle to be found within the first ten feet, twirled and whooped and ran all out, limbs loose and swinging, to the pasture gate that led to the tank—the pond, where the cattle watered. There the real drama awaited—a real flood down by the giant oak, now up to his waist in new-made rivers.
“Come on, Mom!” we screeched above the roar of the water, picking our way through the mud of the old cattle trails, ducking beneath cedar branches and wintered vines. You came. Smiling, eyebrows arched in interest at every fossil we pointed out, every yell of false alarm when a branch turned out not to be a snake.
You came right into the streams, splashed us with the cold, swift water, and when we eyed the swiftest torrent with daring, hungry eyes, you nodded your permission. In we went, right up to our short little waists, fighting against the current in an overjoyed grapple with the one joyous fact of the water. I remember that for one instant I looked back at you.
Already in the current, I turned and sought your face. I was a little in awe that you would let us dare the flood. I was proud that you were there to see us do it. And if I was also a little afraid of the torrent, well, I had you at my back. You caught my eye.
And to this day I cannot forget the glint of fun that blazed in your glance. The slight nod of reassurance that told me I would never be out of your sight. Then the smile, like a whisper between those who know the great camaraderie of adventure. I laughed. And dove straight in. And that, Mom, is one of the clarion moments for which I will thank you all my days.