Well, another Mother’s Day has passed and I hope all mothers and carers reading this had a wonderful time. But I often wonder how you hold up against the glorious images of perfect motherhood in the media. I commend a project by photographer Roseann Hall on the ABC website that presents motherhood in all its wonderful complexity, tenderness in the midst of mess, love in the chaos. We need good images to guide us in our lives.
Made in the image and likeness of God, we may be surprised to realise just how helpful pondering on God’s parenting might help us in hard and difficult times. I use a personal example to explain.
A couple of years ago, I cared for my brother’s large family while he was dying. He and my sister-in-law were the best of parents. But still, it was a steep learning curve looking after their children. One day early in the piece, I took them to the beach, and while there, two of the teenage girls lied about their whereabouts, deliberately. I lost the plot. G.L.O.R.I.O.U.S.L.Y. The scene in the carpark would have made the perfect internet meme of bad, uncontrolled parenting. But pondering on it later and asking how it held up as an image of God’s parenting, I am quite proud of what happened. The screaming around the carpark made it clear that I was concerned about them, the slamming of the car doors said I was to be taken seriously, the pep talk said I was to know where they were, the silence on the way home let them think, the chips bought on the way said I would still look after them. They needed to know all this for the months ahead and sweet talking, pretty gestures simply weren’t going to do that. In my fury, they knew I was there for them – just like God-with-us, Emmanuel (a name of Jesus).
We will laugh together about this incident in years to come (and they will probably tell the story at my funeral). If I get the chance, I might even be able to tell them I felt I was imaging God in the crazy ferocity of my love.
Loving God, you know the wide and crazy range of feelings my child/ren provoke in me. Let me ponder on those feelings and discover how I can image your passionate, creative love in my loving. I ask this in Jesus’ name, confident that you may hear me.
Sr Kym Harris osb