I spent the weekend getting infected by my son’s cold, so I’m home today, trying to recuperate. I’ve slept for over 12 hours so far, and hopefully it’s working. I have too much to do this week to be sick on top of it all. What else did I do over the weekend? Well, I finished Mortal Engines, an absolutely awesome YA sci-fi book I’ve been reading over the last while. Philip Reeve is the author, and while there were some off parts, I loved the way he created a situation where there were no real “villains”–just properly motivated characters with conflicting ideologies and goals. Excellent read.
I also spoke in church yesterday for Mother’s Day. Just a four minute talk, so it wasn’t really anything too worrisome. For those of you interested to see what I had to say, I’ll include the text of my talk after the jump. I used to not write my talks down, preferring to wing it. Now I tend to like having the chance to formulate it all out on paper to get it just how I like it.
Friday afternoon I broke down and mowed my lawn for the first time this year. Probably should have done it a bit earlier, but one thing I like about these Maine lawns: they’re sturdy. I could probably pour gasoline over the whole thing, torch it, and I’d still have to mow it the next week.
Anyway–I’m off to slink back to bed and sleep for a few more hours. Toodle-oo.
Talk length? Four minutes.
Talk subject? Mothers.
Now, I’m all for short talks, especially when I’m the one giving them. But having to cram a life’s experience with mothers into a measly four minutes? Mission impossible. Of course, chances are any of the other speakers would have gladly traded places with me, four minutes being traditionally preferable to a ten minute talk. But still. The subject’s simply too broad. Four minutes is a good length to address the upcoming weather for the week, or last night’s ballgame, but mothers? Where to begin?
There are famous mothers in history. Women whose first name alone is enough to identify them, so big an impact have they had on the world. Eve. Mary. But there are other mothers in history who have had as great an impact–or even greater–even if their names are not known. To prove this, you need only look at the impact your mother has had on you in your own life.
My mother taught me plenty of don’ts: Don’t lie down in the middle of the road. Not even if you’re tired. Don’t play with cigarette lighters in rental cars. Don’t believe what a street vendor tells you in New York City. She also taught me plenty of do’s: Do take a shower every day. Even if you don’t think you stink. Do spell-check your paper before you submit it. Do keep your eyes on the road when you’re in the back seat of a car. It really does help with car sickness.
I think I can safely say that if I had had to learn on my own everything that my mother taught me, I’d be in a pretty sorry state, and that’s just with the small stuff. I can state with confidence that I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for my mother. If I’m courteous or well behaved, I give full credit where credit’s due. If I fall short of perfection, that’s because the student was less than able, not due to any fault of the teacher’s.
Of course, now that I’m married and a father, I have the opportunity of seeing motherhood from a different angle, and it’s only made me more appreciative of the things a mother does. All it takes is for my wife to get sick for even a day, and I suddenly remember the countless things she does–and how glad I am she does them.
Unfortunately, I think most of the good things we have in our life are easy to overlook. There’s more than enough troubles to focus on. Work is busy, gas prices are up, the neighbor’s dog won’t stop barking at two in the morning. But what would it be like without work? Without a car? Without that dog? Well, pretty good without the dog, but miserable without the rest. It’s the same way with mothers. Let’s try to appreciate what we have while we have it, instead of only missing it when it’s gone.
If mothers were to do nothing more than bring children into this world, their role in society would already be immeasurable. But they do so much more. A study was just released that calculated the amount of income a stay at home mom saves her family by staying at home. $117,000. In other words, if you were to hire someone to do your family’s laundry, schlep the kids around to school events, do the dishes, clean the house, tutor the kids with homework, balance the checkbook, buy the groceries, make the food–do all the duties of a mother, it would cost you over a hundred thousand dollars a year. And that’s not even counting the spiritual strength and stability a mother adds to a family. Would you want a hired substitute instilling values into your children? Would you trust them?
As part of a Christmas gift for my mother several years ago, I was asked by my sister to write a poem about my mother. I share it with you now not because it’s particularly brilliant or memorable, but because if I had to cram my feelings about mothers into a condensed amount of time, this is the closest I could come. It’s short, succinct, and nothing if not heartfelt.
How to express my thankfulness to Her
Who sweetly, subtly sets the course to steer?
A silent star to watch and guide, deter
The sailor from the craggy rocks of fear.
As soon as ship sets sail in sea of life,
He must rely on lore learned long ago.
The only knowledge useful when in strife
Is seaman’s compass: stars that route from woe.
You are the heavens used to navigate
My life upon the dang’rous waters deep.
Upon the crooked seas you set me straight
And lead me to the boons of life I reap.
The lessons that you taught me I know well,
For if I learned one not from you I cannot tell.
Brothers and sisters, my four minutes is up. I’d like to close by expressing my admiration and respect for all the mothers in this room. May this day serve to remind us to appreciate and honor them every day.