Write It Down and Throw It Away! (Sermon for Mother’s Day)

Today we celebrate Mother’s Day. . . a little tricky time for clergy. Some of us have wonderful memories of our mothers, some of us had bad relationships with our mothers, and some of us were not raised in a family with a mother.

And for those of you who are mothers it isn’t a bed of roses either: some have lost their children through death or drugs or mental illness; some are estranged for a variety of reasons. And some of you may be looking forward to the birth of a child.

But most cruel is the emphasis on flowers and breakfast in bed for those women who have wanted and never had children. All this aggrandizing of motherhood further reminds them that they have no children.

Today, though I am going to talk about our own mothers, the ones who through birth or the love of adoption were the mothers we knew in our childhood. . . remembered sometimes with warm pleasant feelings and sometimes with fear or loathing.

Everyone has conflict with their mothers, for instance:

    • when we were in the ‘terrible twos’
    • when we were learning to assert ourselves as we approach the teen years
    • those teens when parents know absolutely nothing
    • as young adults when our lifestyles don’t necessarily mesh with hers
    • when our mothers reach that age where we need to take care of them.

Relationships with mothers is a moving mine field, even when there is a good relationship. The person who changed your diapers, wiped your tears and heard your dreams had her own tears and dreams. But, when she became a mother, to some extent, she put those away and became a caretakers of this new person.

We all have a concept of what the ‘perfect family’ is. But I can tell you that the Leave It To Beaver or The Partridge Family models DO NOT exist in real life. Family are full of fighting . . .

    and disagreements. . .
    and tears . . .
    and joy.

But it is not smooth sailing.

I have a saying that I use when I think of my own mother: ‘She did the best she could do’. None of us know that kind of childhood our mothers had or didn’t have. We don’t know if she was shown love or abuse. We have not walked in her shoes; we don’t know what shaped her concept of mothering.

So. . .

It is time to put away the resentment and hatred and loathing of our mothers.

And this is how we do that:

    • We all tend to remember every little perceived slight or negative thing that our mothers have said to us.

Write them down on a piece of paper (take as many sheets as you need!)

    • Stop thinking of ourselves as martyrs because we had to live in her house and under her ‘unjust’ rules.

Write those down.

    • Think of those times that she hurt or disappointed us, when she let someone else be cruel or abusive to us.

Write those down.

Then, after we have filled pages and pages of hurts and slights and resentments, it is time to

    throw the papers in the trash. . .

    to release all those negative feelings. . .

    to forgive our mother for whatever we feel she did not provide us.

We are not doing this for her, but for us.

We can’t live a full and rewarding life if we are holding onto a lot of old garbage.


Let us pray:

Dear Lord, we may not have had the best mother in the world, but help us to forgive her as you have forgiven us. Let the resentment and hatred and negativity be released and help us to accept her as our mother, because she did the best she could do. Amen
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, 12 June 2013

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