Ahhhhhhh, flowers are blooming, the sun is warming, and spring rains are falling. They all point to many things, including Mother’s Day. I appreciate the intent of the holiday very much since I have given birth to three people. Thanks to Hal Runkel, I can’t say I have three children because only one of them is still a child. Their ages are 21, 19 and 6. The older two are in college and number three is in kindergarten. I have to admit though, Mother’s Day makes me squirm and the older I get, the more I squirm. I certainly appreciate the idea. After all, I love getting hugs, receiving gifts, and enjoying a celebration meal with the family. My own mother certainly deserves all kinds of accolades for putting up with my ridiculousness over the years. I can’t shake it though. I still squirm.
This story might explain why. When my youngest child, Hazel, lost her first tooth last fall, it was certainly a big deal. That sucker had been hanging on by a thread for weeks. It was so loose, she could extend the tooth on the outside of her mouth with her lips closed, kind of like Nanny McPhee. You can imagine how I loved that. We live in Mississippi and the last thing I need is a picture on social media with bad teeth. Hazel, however, delighted in her new trick. We diligently tried to persuade her to just pull it. But she wouldn’t budge despite promises of the Tooth Fairy and other “it won’t hurt” conversations. Since I couldn’t find a scriptural reason to just yank it out, we left her to her own timeline. Finally, finally, the tooth came out. I put the tooth in a baggie and threw it on the kitchen counter. Smack in the middle of the tooth extravaganza, my middle child called from college. We were headed up to see her for parents’ weekend and she had a long list of things she wanted me to bring. This phone call required a few trips upstairs amongst all the tooth extraction activities, packing, and replacing myself at church for the weekend.
So after the bags were packed and we were all set for school and work the next day, it was time to put the tooth underneath Hazel’s pillow before bedtime. I went to grab the tooth, but couldn’t find it. I remembered putting it in the baggie and laying it on the kitchen counter and then went blank. I retraced steps and looked everywhere with no luck. Finally, after a few eye-rolls from my husband and my conversations with a worried six-year-old, I just wrote a note to the Tooth Fairy explaining the situation. She knows about grace, right?
It wasn’t until the next day that I solved the mystery. I called my husband and said, “Pretty sure the tooth is in the bag of Cheez-Its in Hazel’s lunch.” During all the tooth excitement, trip prep, phone calls, and general scurrying around of daily duties, I just saw a bag as I was making the lunch, not a super-tiny baby tooth. And then the bag contained Cheez-Its, so why would I look for a tooth?
This is one story and I have a million more right behind it including locking my son out of the house and leaving town. So when Mother’s Day comes along, these stories start lining up in my head, I start squirming, and I really just want to move on to Monday when no one is launching Proverbs 31 grenades at me.
If anyone understand us as mothers, it’s our God who created us and who is both mother and father. I love the passage in Hosea 11 when God says, “It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.”
I also love the passage in Isaiah 66:13: “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”
There are many more passages that describe God as mother, although they are probably less familiar. Viewing God as mother is comforting to me as I squirm. Granted, God doesn’t have to deal with mom fails like putting a tooth in the bag of Cheez-Its, but God clearly understands my deep desire to raise three godly adults and that the process is generally a long and sometimes difficult study in humility for me. God understands what it is like to want something for someone else and the risk of rejection and failure that requires. After all, God is a mother too.
It is now spring and Hazel no longer believes in the Tooth Fairy. And since I know zero godly adults who believe in the Tooth Fairy, I’m taking that as a win, a small step toward maturity, and proof that God is taking my five loaves and two fish and accomplishing what I can’t on my own.
Feature image by Westermayer, Till. Autumn walk 02. Taken November 6, 2011. Retrieved from flickr.com. Some rights reserved.