“Behind every great man, there is a great woman.” Quite often, behind, beside, and in front of every great man, there is a great woman. While the reciprocal can be just as true, I’ll be honoring mothers in this blog. Who would Abraham Lincoln, arguably our finest President, have been without the influence of his mother? He reflected, “I remember my mother’s prayers, and they have followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” Most accomplished people, as pastor and speaker Crowford Loritts put it, “stand on the shoulders of giants.” Our legacy extends further back than ourselves; for many of us, these giants are our mothers and grandmothers.
My mother is who she is primarily because of her mother. My father is who he is primarily because of my mother. I am who I am primarily because of my mother. My kids are who they are primarily because of their mother. Too frequently, mothers do not get the honor, praise, and recognition they deserve. I wouldn’t last as a homemaker for a week. I’ve tried a couple of times and usually hit my breaking point on Day 3. Mothers who work full-time AND handle the primary responsibilities at home with young children are simply amazing. Single moms who work full-time while raising young children deserve sainthood.
Nuggets of wisdom from my mother cling to me, just like Lincoln.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons and daughters of God,” she often shared from the Beatitudes when my sister and I were little.
The prayer of St. Francis of Assisi was a favorite,
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
She taught me the saying,
“He who knows not and knows not that he knows not, is a fool. Shun him. He who knows not and knows that he knows not is a child. Teach him. He who knows and knows not that he knows is asleep. Wake him. He who knows and knows that he knows is wise. Follow him.”
I frequently draw upon her words of wisdom and share them with my own children today.
Because she has always cared more about why than what, this passage from William Blake rings true and is my favorite,
“This life’s dim windows of the soul
Distorts the heavens from pole to pole
And leads you to believe a lie
When you see with, not through, the eye.”
It is no coincidence that I gravitated to and have excelled in a profession that requires math, psychology, teaching, and coaching. These are the skillsets of my mother. She teaches bridge today and is resurrecting the game in Lakeland.
One of the things I love most about my mother is her lack of judgment toward others. It says in James, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
She always tries to see the best in other people. Even as a young child, she taught me the power of reason, appealing to one’s good nature and expecting the best from others. She has always been quick to extend grace and forgiveness. When someone, who I’ll leave anonymous, wrecked my car with her first-born son (me) in the passenger seat, her first act upon seeing her was a silent hug absent any harsh words.
Most of my family, friends, and clients know I don’t have much of a filter. Maybe because my mother is the least pretentious person I know and never taught me the art of fake smiles and false compliments. She is authentic. She knows her purpose in life is not to impress others. I drive an old, beat-up Suburban. The radio hasn’t worked in a year. I still wear clothes from college. I used to walk my kids to elementary school barefoot until my oldest daughter became too embarrassed by it. My wife has to threaten me to see the barber when my hair starts growing over my ears and out of them because I just don’t care. Now you know…my mother
To all the mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and beyond, living and remembered, we honor you.
Happy Mother’s Day!