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The Way to a Wonderful Life, Sunday, May 12, 2013 

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       "It is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings." - Ann Landers, Columnist

  We honor our mothers by celebrating Mother's Day and my hope is that this is a joy-filled experience for everyone.  Julia Ward Howe was the first to proclaim Mother's Day in 1870. Her Mother's Day Proclamation was a pacifist reaction to the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. The modern holiday of Mother's Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in America. She then began a campaign to make "Mother's Day" a recognized holiday in the United States. Although she was successful in 1914, she was already disappointed with its commercialization by the 1920s. Jarvis' holiday was adopted by other countries and it's now celebrated all over the world.

                 But, for many people Mother's Day brings up issues that they struggle with.  I came across an article in Psychology Today, written by F. Diane Barth, LCSW, where she writes:  "Like almost all of my clients with families, Kay was trying to do everything right as a parent, trying, as another client put it, not to do to her youngsters what her parents had done to her."  As Ms. Barth further explains in the article, so many people expect their parents, in an idealized way, to be perfect.  When this idealized perfection is not experienced, or sometimes even destroyed, guilt and blame begin to form in the minds of children and for some continue to be felt into their adult life.

     It is a pervasive attitude that is revealed to psychologists and to others in the healing professions; "blame the drama on mama."   It has been my experience that this "blame" on the mother, is far more prevalent than people blaming the father for why their lives have been difficult.  Intelligent people who have realized great success in their lives still hold the idea in their minds that if only their mothers had been a more "perfect mom" their lives would be so much better.  But, we know that there is no "perfect mom" only women who do their best to be a mother to their children.  And for some mothers, the experience isn't all that they had hoped it would be.  And for others, it is the most fulfilling experience of their life.  And then there are some women who feel that because they chose not to have children, or couldn't have children, that people see them as less important than mothers.  Yet, we know that in truth this can never be so.  We are all equally important in our experience of life ... there is no lesser or greater.  

     Recently there have been discussions in the U.S. on "stay at home moms" versus "working mothers" and the values that are associated with both.  Like so many things that we find in the world, people look to "labels" or "concepts" rather than realize that in this unique expression of Life that we are, every mother, lives to the awareness within their own consciousness of who they are and what their idea of themselves happens to be ... and this changes, and changes often.  Labels like "working mom" or "stay at home mom" are just that, labels.  No one is trapped in a "limited" idea of who they are, unless it is of their own choosing.  Mothers, like everyone else, have more than one desire and more than one purpose in life.  

      In legitimate spiritual literature and Holy Writings, being a "mother" is considered a position of honor and someone to be honored and respected ... "honor thy father and thy mother ... " we read in the Ten Commandments.  And it is not of little consequence that Jesus sought to insure that His mother was to be taken care of even though He Himself was suffering horribly physically and most likely mentally too before being crucified on a cross.  As we honor our mothers and seek to insure that rather than expecting our mother to be the "perfect mom", instead we seek to be a more perfect son or daughter, we shall be living in tune with the Infinite Love that gave our mother the desire to give birth to us.  Our mothers chose to be an instrument of the Divine Spirit that brought us into this world.  This we know as the truth, for we are the living proof that this is so.

     "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home." - Gospel of John 19:25-27, The Holy Bible

     Jesus' words to the disciple that He loved, reveals to each of us the way in which we should care for our mothers. There is a bond between mother and child that is stronger than any other bond we may form in life; husbands, wives, brothers and sisters, friends ... all of these bonds may be strong but the bond with our mother is even stronger still, for it was formed in the Spirit.  Most often when our relationship with our mother is one of discord or apathetic, other areas of our life contain issues that require healing.  And many a marriage is turbulent when either spouse feels apathy or resentment towards the mother of their husband or wife ... and this applies to same-sex marriages as well.  

     My mother gave life to twelve of us; seven girls, five boys.  She was the glue that kept us all together after my father made his transition in 1980.  It is difficult for most people to imagine a woman consenting to have twelve children, but my mother and father agreed on this number of children and twelve is what they had.  My mother was a "stay at home mom" but at no time did she ever tell my sisters this should be their choice too.  More often than not my mother could be heard to tell her children that they could do anything they wanted to do if they wanted it enough.  My mother was not overly religious, but she had a living faith that sustained her through many of the struggles involved in raising twelve children on a farm in Missouri.  She would gather us all around and read passages from the Holy Bible to us on Sunday afternoons and she would read Ann Landers' advice column to us through the week.  We had good times and troubling times, but we made it through it all as a family.  It was never a question as to whether or not she was a "perfect mom" but rather, how very blessed we were to have her as our mother.

     With a broader world-view, it did not take long for me to realize that not all mothers were like mine.  Yet, I know and accept that "a more perfect mother" than the mother that is ours does not exist.  Our mother is/was the right and perfect mother for us.  This is a truth that will have many who struggle with spiritual consciousness to believe and accept, but it is the truth nonetheless.  To believe otherwise would be to believe that G-d is present for some and not for others ... that G-d blesses some but not others ... or worst yet, that G-d is a god of reward and punishment.  These can never be the truth.  We may never in this lifetime understand why we have had the mother that we do ... whether our relationship be a loving one or an antagonistic one ... there are infinite things that we have yet to know about Life and our relationship to It.  Let's look at this from the Book of Ecclesiastes 11:5 once again: "As thou knowest not what is the way of the wind, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child; even so thou knowest not the work of God who doeth all."

     There is a joy to be felt in knowing that G-d has given to us that which is for our highest and greatest good ... and this includes our mother.  Let us find some way in which we can honor this choice that our mothers made to bring us into this life, no matter where our mother may be, either here or in the hereafter, or even if we are not on speaking terms with her ... let us experience the livingness, the givingness and the forgivingness of the Spirit that in-dwells us and find our way to show our gratitude, our love, and our understanding that the choice that our mother made is an important one for us today and every day.


Keep the faith!
. Henry Bates

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