Everyday Encounter with God

Pastor Sylvia's Encounters with God in the Midst of Everyday Life


Understanding and Loving Our Mothers

Driving from Chicago to St. Louis one summer I nearly killed a man.

The sun was so low in the sky that it blinded me from reading the freeway signs. I knew my exit was coming up and I didn’t want to miss it, so I was weaving back and forth—toward where there should be an exit and back on the freeway in case there wasn’t. Right-left-right-left I drove in little jerks for several hundred feet.

By my calculations when the sun was blocked by the overpass, I’d be able to see if this was my exit. Then I could make my split-second decision.

Suddenly the sun was obstructed. I was headed straight for a man who was hitchhiking. As I zigged and zagged, he was jumping back and forth over his suitcase, trying to keep from being struck. To avoid hitting him I lunged right even though I realized—too late—it wasn’t my exit.

I’ve never forgotten the look of terror in his eyes as I flew by and missed him by inches.

One of the challenges mothers face is the need to make split-second decisions and get them right at least most of the time. It’s hard. There are endless factors that must be considered in only a few seconds.

When did the child last eat? Is their idea safe? Are they dressed appropriately for where we’re going? Which children will need the bathroom and when? What should be in the “just-in-case” bag? Food? Beverages? Changes of clothes? Books and toys? Sanitary wipes? Colorful bandages?

The more children, the more instant mother decisions. Each one must be factored into the others.

I talked to an amazing mother this week who has five children aged from 6-months to eight-years old. She temporarily rendered me speechless. I tried to imagine life at her house and my admiration kept growing and growing.

My own mother worked very hard to make the best decisions for my brother and sister and me. She’d spread us out four years apart to assure that each had special attention, but the wide difference in our developmental skills made everything challenging.

If I was roasting marshmallows, my brother had to have his on a stick just like mine. But our younger sister wasn’t safe around fire and loudly resented extra help. Within moments brother dropped his in the fire and was crying. Little sister was screaming in frustration. And I was blaming mother because things weren’t fun enough.

Mothers Day ought to be held more than once a year. There are woman in our families, our communities, and our nation who are frustrated, tired, and exhausted. They are doing their best to make tough decisions in split-second timing.

Your mother wasn’t perfect, I already know that. She knows it too. If you’re anything like me, I spent more years blaming her for my flaws than thanking her for my assets. By the time I was old enough to recognize the challenges of her role, I only had a few years remaining in which to shower her with my admiration and grace.

On that drive to St. Louis I turned around and headed back to the freeway on-ramp. I’d exited too early. As I passed by the traumatized hitchhiker he was trying to explain his experience to an Illinois State Trooper, hopping back and forth over his suitcase as if that proved the matter.

Meanwhile the policeman was calmly writing on goldenrod paper. It was a ticket for hitchhiking.

God bless our mothers, those who are here with us and those who have already passed on.