Lessons learned from Mom: A tribute to mothers for Mother’s Day

Lessons learned from Mom: A tribute to mothers for Mother’s DayGayle Irwin and mother Marcia Mansfield at a book signing (Gayle Irwin)

She drank a small coffee while Dad and I shared a burger and fries because we couldn’t afford for all three of us to eat complete meals. She gave me the Heimlich when I choked on a piece of candy, saving my life. She encouraged me to care for our pets because she knew the special bond between children and animals. She took care of my dog and cat when, as an adult, I was in-between houses, and she helped me pick out my wedding dress and then assisted my bridesmaids on that beautiful spring wedding day.

For more than 60 years, I’ve called her ‘mom,’ and every day I thank God for her.

We share a love for cats, bird watching, conservation, and Hallmark movies. Yes, we disagree on some things, but one thing never wavers, and that is her love, which pours out like sparkling water filling a glass. My mother’s love fills my heart and has helped me become a better woman, and a better Christian.

Her own mother emulated sacrifice, love, and compassion. Raised in a Christian home, my mom also learned a strong work ethic, honesty, integrity, and love for the Lord.

Gayle's Mom Marcia Mansfield and Patches the cat/Gayle Irwin

Not everyone experiences a loving home or has a generous, self-sacrificing, kind mother. Those of us who do need to reflect and be grateful to the Lord. I’ve known mothers who are controlling, belittling, and abusive, and I’ve seen wives dissect their husbands in a similar manner, perhaps because that’s the atmosphere in which they grew up. It’s heartbreaking and sad to witness such behavior, and when I do see such actions, I again thank God for the woman who gave me life and mentored me through her words and her actions.

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In Proverbs 31:25 and 26 we read, "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." Those of us with mothers who epitomize kindness, compassion, wisdom, and grace, among other positive attributes, are quite blessed. Yet, we often take those qualities for granted, especially during our younger years. I know I did, but I received a second chance to be thankful.

About 10 years ago my mother became direly ill. I sat in the hospital’s chapel, and, like a video or DVD, God brought to mind all the ways my mother loved and supported me; even amid bad decisions, she never turned her back on me. Since then, I’ve come to more greatly cherish the woman who is my mother, and I try to show her and tell her more regularly how grateful I am for her.

The Peace Corps often used the phrase, “The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love.” That applies to parenting. Lack of sleep, anxiety over illness, worrying when a child is late to return home, concern when a kid is learning to drive, when their grades plummet, when they date – so many concerns and so many things to learn when you’re a parent. And kids, including this one, can be unappreciative. Mothers experience these things and more. 

As the only child of two very different people, I have learned much from my parents, especially from my mother who stayed at home most of my life. I’m grateful for the many lessons she taught me, including (but not limited to):

1. Love for God

2. Sacrificial love for family

3. Respect for others, including those different from me

4. Determination and perseverance

5. Honesty and integrity

6. Humility without being a doormat

7. Being a dependable friend

8. Strong work ethic

9. Helping people less fortunate

10. Care for God’s creation

What qualities has your mother or grandmother emulated and what life lessons have been instilled within you?

Working in the pregnancy help arena, we have opportunities to teach young women the “tough job” of motherhood. Through interactions with clients, whether during classes or first-time visits, those working in pregnancy help can model many of the characteristics listed earlier. The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 5:22-23 about the fruit of the Spirit: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These qualities are often found in mothers, and people who work in pregnancy help.

I remember an older woman who volunteered at the pregnancy center where I worked – she helped teach the parenting classes for many years. Women looked upon her as a mother or grandmother-figure, as she loved on them through her words and actions, encouraging them and helping them feel special. Such a role, as mentor and advisor, is important in pro-life work and motherhood. Love is the driving force in both endeavors.

Gayle and mom marcia/Gayle Irwin

Just as Jesus loved, mothers (often) give freely of themselves to their children. Whether you have a birth mother, an adoptive mother, a mother-like figure, a grandmother, aunt, or another special woman, who has sacrificed, loved, and instructed you, following the example of Christ, this Mother’s Day remember to say, ‘Thank you.’ 

Tweet This: Just as Jesus loved, mothers (often) give freely of themselves to their children. Remember to say, ‘thank you’ this Mother’s Day

Tomorrow is never promised. My 59-year-old cousin died unexpectedly last week, leaving behind two adult children. My mother is 84, and my mother-in-law is 94. Time stops for no one, and we never know when the Lord will call us, or our mothers and grandmothers, home.

Thank the Lord for moms who love us, teach us, encourage us, even challenge us now and then, and let us remember God’s command: “Honor your father and your mother.”

Wishing moms everywhere a blessed, happy, and safe Mother’s Day!

“Children, if you want to be wise, listen to your parents and do what they tell you, and the Lord will help you. For the commandment, "Honor your father and your mother," was the first of the Ten Commandments with a promise attached: "You will prosper and live a long, full life if you honor your parents." - Ephesians 6:1-3 (The Passion Translation)

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