I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a mom. Child bearing alone is hard to fathom. Moms have to endure kicks in the womb and the pain of pushing the fetus into the world. While the physical umbilical cord is surgically cut at birth, moms often have to experience their children severing the emotional umbilical cord with the equivalent of a figurative dull, rusty knife later on in life. Child rearing is often thankless work, even though it is often very relationally rewarding.
This reflection on mothers reminds me of Simeon’s words to Mary, Jesus’ mother, soon after Jesus’ birth: a sword would pierce her own heart (Luke 2:34-35). Perhaps Simeon had in mind Jesus’ growing independence, as when at the age of twelve Jesus told his distraught mother and father from whom he had wandered away that he had to be in his Father’s house (Luke 2:49). Maybe Simeon envisioned such occurrences as Jesus pushing back on Mary’s motherly presumption for him to do her bidding at the wedding at Cana in Galilee—“Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4; ESV), or Jesus exclaiming to a crowd in his family’s presence that those who do his Father’s will are his true mother and brothers (Matthew 12:46-50). Perhaps Simeon also prophetically envisioned Jesus’ death on the cross, which Mary experienced as a front row eye witness (John 19:25). Mary had been overwhelmed by the angel’s wondrous news that she would be the mother of the Messiah; but even so, she likely realized even then the monumental mission to which she was called (Luke 1:26-56).
By no means did Mary live a comfortable, easy life. Nor do other mothers, whose children are far from messianic and angelic. I want to thank my mother for bearing me into the world and for bearing with me in life. No doubt, many of my acts to gain independence caused her pain. She helped me learn how to stand on my own and walk, and endured a season when I pushed against her and walked away. Even then, she embraced me in her heart. As long as she lives, and even after her life is over, she will never stop being Mom to me.
We who have experienced sacrificial motherly care should realize that apart from them we could not stand. I cannot imagine where we would be without such parental figures in a world that is all too often cruel and indifferent. While we can never repay our mothers for their love, we can model it by assisting and caring sacrificially for our own children as well as those abandoned and forsaken who are living in one way or another as orphans in distress. No doubt, there will be times when they will push us away for one reason or another. Still, we can stay the course and look out for them just as our mothers who bore us bear with us to the end.