Being real about Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday can be a difficult time for many people. Unfortunately there’s sometimes a rather simplistic and superficial attitude towards it which is only to be expected in the commercial world but is sadly reproduced in the world of the church. Here’s a few examples from my own experience:

In one church the children are lined up in front of the congregation to sing a song about how wonderful their mothers’ are and how grateful the children are for everything their mothers’ do and how sorry they feel for the times when they have not done what their mother has told them.

In another church baskets of posies are handed out to anyone female, after all women if nothing else are all mothers!

In another church the prayers are for us to all think about the great sacrifices our mothers’ made especially when we were babies (and by implication selfishly) waking in the night and needing feeding and care. We are to thank God for the qualities of gentleness and compassion that belong to mothers.

You don’t have to train as a psychotherapist to know that this one dimensional sentimental and sanctimonious trash is going to at best continue some rather dreadful stereotypes and at worse enrage those who beg to differ. What about the children in the first scene who are adopted or fostered or as all children do have ambivalent feelings towards their mothers? In the second scene what about the women who would love to have children, but who for various reasons do not want to or are unable to? In the third example we need to just be aware that times are changing there is increased awareness of shared parenting (after all men can be compassionate and gentle too!) and there are also statistics that show the high rates of neglect and abuse faced by children. Also what about all those struggling in counselling and therapy to make sense of their childhoods and sorting out the good and the bad, and working through all the mixed feelings that belong to any mother/child?

Mothering by God though now that’s the real deal!