She told me that she wasn’t trying to take my mother’s place. She only wanted to be my friend. I was 13 years old and still trying to deal with the fact that my mom and dad were divorced. I was holding onto the dream that they might get back together. The problem was that my mom was a lost soul. Struggling with alcoholism, she didn’t know what she wanted.
She was pregnant at 17 and felt trapped. She loved my father but felt that somehow life had given her a bum deal. My dad said when she found out she was pregnant she locked herself in a closet and cried for days. She was praying it wasn’t true and looking for a way out. I was born shortly after her 18th birthday and things got better for a while.
She spent a lot of time with me when I was little. She read to me and taught me how to read and write. I always felt she loved me but there was a sadness to her. Her own father was an alcoholic. He abandoned her and the family when she was 4 years old. By the time she turned 25 she began to find solace in the bottle. At 28 she left home.
Whenever I read the story of the prodigal son, I think of her. Her life got pretty tough over the next few years. She was homeless. She got by with sleeping on the couch of one friend after another until they kicked her out. Then she moved on. She did whatever it took to get enough money to live. She died with $600 to her name at age 32.
I thank God that she gave me life. I will always love her for that.
I also thank God for my step-mom. She did become that friend and so much more over the years. I gave her a hard time as a teenager but she never gave up on me. She loved me as if I was her own and I loved her back. She was every bit a mom to me when I needed one. I think about it now and realize how fortunate I was. I was doubly loved. For I had two moms.
At 17 I gave my mom a plaque. It read, “God could not be everywhere so he invented moms.” It wasn’t good theology but it expressed a sentiment that many of us have had. It is hard to be a parent. I thank God for those women; moms, step-moms, grandmoms, aunts and big sisters, who have stepped us and loved the children that God has given them to watch over.
The truth is that God loves us because we are his children. He gave us life in our mothers’ wombs. Even though our earthly mothers might stumble a bit, God’s love is unconditional. It is always present. It forgives our failings. It encourages us to do our best. It lifts us up when we are weak. Most of all, it will never fail us.
So as we celebrate Mother’s Day this year, salute your moms and give God thanks for them. If they are still living, give them a call, send them some flowers and find a way to say thank you. While you are at it, look up and give a word of thanks for the One who gave them to us. Praise God!
The Rev. Cal Lord is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Westerly.