Being a mom for thirty-six years has had an effect in every aspect of my life. I feel a real need at times, to mother the rest of humanity. Everywhere I look, I see ways to mother people. I cannot seem to help myself. The words just bubble up and I act without even processing at times. This could be a problem for a spouse, co-worker, or friend.
The relationship between our five kids and I started getting wobbly when they were teens. They would one by one, weird-out usually starting around their sophomore year. The next few years would be spent doing what teens do best, mentally torturing their parents. My tendency to mother other people’s teens is something that mortified my youngest during her teen years. “Barbara,” she would say to me, “just mind your own business they can figure it out.” She would call me by my first name when she was frustrated with the youth minister/mother to the world side of me.
None of our other children ever called me by my first name except on rare occasions when they did not think I was listening. She is different; she was the one who had to deal with me the longest as “Barb the Youth Minister,” at St. Andrew’s during her tumultuous teen years.
Believe me, no teen wants to have their mother as their Youth Minister. So, I get it. I am sure it was frustrating for her when there is so much angst as one begins to pull away towards independence and autonomy.
St. Andrew the Apostle has always had an amazingly vibrant ministry to teens and youth and that tradition continues with the great work Robert and his core team have been doing for years. Fr. Teilo and his dedicated team are also doing really beautiful ministry to the “kiddos” in religious education. We are very blessed at St Andrew with these two men taking the helm and steering the youth towards a straight, God-centered future.
Fathers, however, are not mothers, and that is a beautiful thing.
We mothers do not draw the lines at only our own children. All kids are fair game when it comes to needing a mother’s influence. It really does take will power and a real presence of mind on my part, to know when to act and when to walk by. If I daydream for long, I shift into my auto-mother piloting system and go off on a mission to save society from malnourished teens and snotty-nosed kids.
I am the oldest of five kids. I guess it started a long time ago when I think about it. Maybe it stems from some deep-seated need to boss something around that started about the time my brother was born. Nonetheless, I don’t think it is a habit I’ll ever outgrow. At times it is a heavy burden, I can’t even go about my daily tasks without seeing some situation that clearly needs a mother’s input. I feel like there is a huge radar screen in my head always scanning subconsciously for something to pop up. Red Alert! Red Alert! Target acquired, untied shoe at four o’clock. Danger! Danger! Launch Kleenex dead ahead. Why just the other day I had to stop myself from asking a bunch of teens outside a local eatery to clean up after themselves. I mean really… I can’t be the only mom on patrol?
Our youngest daughter seemed to anticipate an impending attack and would try to move to intercept as quickly as she could. “No, mom!” She would strategically station herself right in my path, “Barbara! Are you listening to me?” Sometimes she was successful, but mostly I was a missile poised on a target and she was no match. “Geez, I can’t believe you just did that. How embarrassing!” she would sigh.
These days, I am trying to use more will power and stay focused on simply mothering my own brood but, they are grown up now, and have moved away. With the current virus situation, I don’t get to see them or the grand-kids as much. So, I happen to have a surplus of all this “untapped mothering” that is searching for targets. Beware.
I often ponder about our dear sweet Mother Mary and her life on earth. Having been preserved from Original Sin would have given her a real insight into the hearts of humanity. Raising the Son of God would have given her all the experience she needed to assume “Mothership” as Jesus handed us over to her care, while he hung dying on the cross.
As a mother myself, I can only imagine the pain, sorrow, and grief she must bear observing her earthly children. It is my hope however, that we also offer her a chuckle from time to time and mostly, that we cause her heart to sing with joy as we make our way on the right path towards her Son. Knowing that she intercedes for us is a constant source of strength for me personally.
To all the mothers who love to mother, and all our spiritual and extended moms who have given us guidance and wisdom as we walked this path; I wish you the most joyful blessings this Mother’s Day. The world needs mothers to do what we do best, with great quantities of love and patience, and when we do, we make the world a better place indeed. Happy Mother’s Day!
One thought on “Mothering the Masses”
Barbara, I absolutely love this! As a teacher, I often find myself not only mothering my students, but other children out in public as well. It also embarrasses my youngest!
What a beautiful insight you give us of our Blessed Mother. May we always strive to be more like her.
Looking forward to reading more of your articles.