Motherhood is another ‘term’ for ‘love without measure’. At least a day is set aside globally to acknowledge the sacrifice of mothers for their children and husbands. That day is tomorrow, May 8. Mothers’ Day is just a minuscule gratitude gesture. Good mothers are the epitome of love and sacrifice, while unfaithful mothers may counter represent God’s love for humanity. Finding a good mother almost equals finding God.
Advice from Sirach
On Mother’s Day then, here is a tribute to motherhood. The book of Sirach was written in about 180 BC in Jerusalem. This book contains pragmatic ways to live righteous and civic life. Sirach vividly exposes children’s duty towards their parents – Children, listen to me; I am your father. Do what I tell you and you will be safe, for the Lord has given fathers authority over their children and given children the obligation to obey their mothers. If you respect your father, you can make up for your sins, and if you honour your mother, you are earning great wealth. If you respect your father, your own children will make you happy; the Lord will hear your prayers. If you obey the Lord by honouring your father and making your mother happy, you will live a long life. Obey your parents as if you were their slave. Honour your father in everything you do and say so that you may receive his blessing. When parents give their blessing, they give strength to their children’s homes, but when they curse their children, they destroy the very foundations. Never seek honour for yourself at your father’s expense; it is not to your credit if he is dishonoured. Your own honour comes from the respect that you show to your father. If children do not honour their mothers, it is their own disgrace. My child, take care of your father when he grows old; give him no cause for worry as long as he lives. Be sympathetic even if his mind fails him; don’t look down on him just because you are strong and healthy. The Lord will not forget the kindness you show to your father; it will help you make up for your sins. When you are in trouble, the Lord will remember your kindness and will help you; your sins will melt away like frost in warm sunshine. Those who abandon their parents or give them cause for anger may as well be cursing the Lord; they are already under the Lord’s curse (Sirach 3:1-16).
Mothers may rarely say, ‘I love you, my child,’ but their actions of sacrifice and dedication are outwards symbols of their eternal love. Mothers speak less but express more in their actions. “We should remember that saying ‘I love you’ is only a beginning. We need to say it, we need to mean it, and most importantly, we need to consistently show it. We need to both express and demonstrate love” (David A. Bednar).
More than once, more than one person has explained and narrated the four-letter word “LOVE”. Each perception is, of course, diverse. This word has a deep meaning, and its scope for the interpretation seems to widen the more we try to define it. Despite the already existent thousand explanations not entirely accepted definitions of love, I would like to add another description. For me, love would mean sharing myself with another person – my mental, spiritual and physical resources. This sharing of spiritual and material resources is best seen in a mother’s love for her children. The feelings and emotions evoked by the presence or absence of someone whom we love are still in the realm beyond verbal expression. But that is part of love.
Love involves Sacrifice
To say “I Love You” to any breathing being would entail costs beyond description. It demands sacrifice, patience and adjustment with the other individual. To say I love someone is like saying I am ready to be stretched, sacrificed and wounded. It is an expression of willingness to go the extra mile to be informed more about them. It is an awareness that life is too short not to make the best use of it for another person. To share oneself entirely with at least another person before the last whistle for exit (death) would be one of the most meaningful ventures of life on earth. It would be an actual achievement in life. This sort of love, most mothers impart to their children.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hope, always perseveres. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). If you have already experienced love from your parents, well-wishers, teachers and friends, it is time you extend those blessings to others as well.
If we want good mothers, we need to train up our children in the proper way. We need to educate our daughters, empower them and make them self-sufficient. We need to encourage and protect all women so that we have healthy and enlightened mothers. We pray for good daughters who would become good mothers for a decent society.
The author is a PhD research scholar, Department of Sociology and Social Work, CHRIST (Deemed to be University), Bangalore, Karnataka, India. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org