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Appreciating our mothers

Saturday 13 May 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Editorials, Features, In Depth, Opinion

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Appreciating our mothers

Do we know how powerful we are? We mothers? With one gentle touch, we can soothe an injury or with a harsh hand, we can injure a heart. With one word, we can crush a dream or inspire hope in our child, whether at three or fifty-three, writes Linda Kavelin-Popov.

Because of our power to affect the ones in our care, we are called to use it mindfully, with tenderness, truthfulness, strength, and kindness.

One of the best ways for us to overflow with the milk of loving-kindness is first and foremost, to show it to ourselves. Nurturing our own well-being with friendship, worship, play, and rest, woven through the many demands of work and home, supports us to give our best. When spent and exhausted, we have little to give to anyone. If we’re running on empty, there is nothing left in the tank for others. It’s our spiritual obligation to be happy. One time, my husband surprised me with a sweatshirt in my favourite colours of pink and purple. On the front was my name with a star beside it. On the back it said, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

Think about times when the woman who raised you was in a bad mood or full of anger or sorrow. How did it impact you? I remember a time when my mother languished in bed for days after a family member committed suicide. I was devastated without knowing why, too young to be told anything. Then there were times when her laughter rang out as the family stood around the piano belting out gospel songs and Broadway tunes as she played. She was an amazing Sunday School teacher, bringing spiritual teachings alive with sacred stories she presented dramatically. She was a woman of moods, chasing me around a table with her dreaded broom, furious at me for things I never understood. And she was the tender-hearted comforter when I felt sad or hurt.

One of the things mothers need to realise is that the words we use to our children at any age have lasting impact on their self-esteem. A child is exquisitely sensitive to shaming words like “stupid”, “useless”, “worthless”, ‘bully”, curse words, or sarcasm, whether they show it or not. Parents are the only mirrors showing them who they are. When we use the Language of Virtues, calling them to respect, helpfulness, or obedience, acknowledging their kindness, thoughtfulness, or courage, we are telling them “You are worthy. You can do anything you set your mind to.” Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” The Baha’i Teachings say, “Always listen, always hear, always speak with the power of the spirit.” Muslim mystic Sa’di says, “Use a sweet 

tongue, courtesy and gentleness, and thou mayest manage to guide an elephant by a hair.”

Our relationship to the one who raised us, whether by birth or as a feeding mum or mama, is complicated. It can be bitter or sweet and is usually both. It tests our loyalty and our resilience to come back from times of hurt. As we move into parenthood ourselves, somehow magically we develop a whole new appreciation for the women who reared us. In my thirties I did a deep dive into forgiveness of my mother and also of myself, developing a newfound love and appreciation for this woman of strong emotions. I now look forward to our reunion in the Heavenly realm, imagining us around a piano singing our hearts out together. Let’s take advantage of Mother’s Day to let the mums and mamas in our lives know the many ways we appreciate them – for their caring, their strength, their loyalty, and their abiding love.