by Jeff Minick
This is the day we honor the mother who bore us, reared us, laughed with us (and sometimes laughed in private at us), argued with us, taught us everything from table manners to hygiene, protected us, and believed in us. She picked us up when we fell on the playground, and quieted us or welcomed us to her bed when we had nightmares. She changed thousands of diapers, told us a thousand times to put our napkins in our lap and to chew our food with our lips closed, prepared our meals and our lunches for school, washed and dried our laundry, and drove us to dance class or football practice. She taught us nursery rhymes, read us fairy tales, told us that green shirts and blue pants clash when worn together, checked our fourth-grade homework, and answered questions ranging from “How come the sky is blue?” to “Why are boys so weird?” She applauded our accomplishments, fretted over our failures, smiled over our antics as toddlers, and wept in her bedroom when we hurt her as teenagers.
Motherhood is about love.
And love — especially maternal love — is about sacrifice.
That last sentence is an understatement of epic proportions.
Think about it.
That sacrifice doesn’t just involve the standard mom duties: the diapers, the feedings, the sleepless nights, the constant fretting over details like homework completed and braces on the teeth, the thousand and one thoughts mothers mull over about their children every two or three days.
To be sure, these are all sacrifices. They are the daily immolations of motherhood. They involve the giving up of the self for another, the pushing aside of personal desires to meet the needs of a child.
But sometimes motherhood drives women beyond even these sacrifices.
Just before dawn on April 22, 2019, nineteen-year-old Dana Scatton died from an inoperable brain tumor. In November 2017, the then pregnant teen was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. Though radiation may have helped prolonged this young woman’s life, she chose to postpone treatment until after her baby’s birth, fearing for her preborn child’s health.
Dana’s family has described her as an “amazing, smart, loving, caring, passionate, incredibly beautiful and free-spirited mother.” If we look at the photograph in the above link, we can see those qualities in Dana’s face, the joy she feels as mother to her daughter.
When reading Dana’s story, we can gather a few hints as to why she chose to place the health of her baby above her own self-preservation. She clearly came from a loving and supportive family. The youngest of nine children, she was probably raised to believe that life was sacred. She cherished her religious faith.
And she was a young woman possessed of the instincts of a mother.
Mothers practice all sorts of parenting styles. Some are strict, some lenient. Some keep a tidy home while others are happy sitting in a living room whose carpet is strewn with toys, puzzle and game parts, and abandoned clothing and shoes. Some moms are comfortable letting their children romp through the woods and the neighborhood, while others never let their offspring out of their sight. Some cook elaborate meals for their families while others are content to serve mac-and-cheese out of a box.
But all good mothers have at least one trait in common.
They are grizzly bears.
They protect their cubs, and heaven help anyone or anything that tries to harm those cubs. When their children are unjustly maligned or bullied, when they are stricken with some dread illness, when they make themselves their own worst enemies, mothers come to their aid. They confront the bullies or teach their children how to do so. They stand tirelessly at the bedside in the hospital. They seek to guide any wayward children back to the right path.
If necessary, they place their own lives on that altar of love.
Young Dana Scatton was such a mom.
This Sunday is the day set aside to honor our mothers. We give them flowers and cards, serve them breakfast in bed, take them to lunch, and call them on the phone if we can’t be with them in person. In a myriad of ways we show our mothers they are loved and appreciated.
Give your mom a hug today.
I wish I could hug mine.
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