The Mangyan women of Mindoro used to take a can of water with them into the bushes to give birth to their babies. They would cut their own umbilical cord using a sharp rock. Alone and birthing in the bushes! My oh my! If they came back alive with their babies then well and good but if they didn’t, then they died alone. What an image on Mother’s Day!
When I heard this from a lady who had been a missionary in Mindoro I thought to myself, Wow! Those Mangyans put us ‘modern’ women (moms) to shame! And hello! Where were their husbands?! But more than that, I thought, how can I be so carnal so often and not live in a perpetual state of gratitude?
Spending time with a dear friend who lost her husband very recently has also made me count my blessings. Yesterday, I attended the birthday party of her kids. I was sitting beside her as she looked out to the pool watching her children. And it pained me deeply to see her struggle to keep from crying. I dared to ask her if she was okay, which was probably a silly question because I kind of knew what she was going to say. It was hard for her to know that this was the first birthday party she and her kids were celebrating without her husband, without their father. What could I possibly say to comfort her? Nothing really. I just hugged her.
In her loneliness, she continues to parent her children and it makes me feel guiltily blessed to have Edric. Motherhood is not so difficult with him around. We are like a tag-team. Knowing that we are in this together makes such a big difference. And when I need a break, Edric is a source of refuge and relief. He is the company I want to end the day with. He is like a best friend that I never get tired of hanging out with.
In contrast, my friend feels the weight and burden of playing the roles of leader, provider, and nurturer to her children. As she struggles to understand the greater reason behind her loss, she must continue to be there for her kids and be strong for them. I know she is totally exhausted but cannot wear her pain so obviously. I know she is perpetually sad but distracts herself so she can temporarily forget. I know that she must not only process her own loss but the loss her children feel. I know she wants to believe that God has a plan for all of this, but it is invisible to her.
I often feel helpless when I think of how to encourage her. My prayer is that one day, God will heal her heart and make it whole again.
Till then, what she is going through reminds me to be ever so thankful that motherhood is not a parenting journey I am taking alone. Edric wrote me a beautiful letter today. I saw it on his desk. He wrote it in secret even if he had to preach four times today. I won’t share the details of what he wrote, but at the end, he said, “I love you sweetheart with all my heart. Happy Mother’s Day.” It probably sounds cheesy. But sometimes I need cheesy. I need romantic cheesy!
I used to think of Mother’s Day with a sense of entitlement. Yeah! It’s my day to feel special and appreciated…What can you do for me, hubby and kids, because I have done so much for you?
But I have had it all wrong. Being married to a man who loves God with all his heart, and loves me and the kids so unconditionally puts the “HAPPY” in Mother’s Day for me!