Take our family, where the Jokester-in-Chief is none other than Dad himself. One time Mom went down to the basement to do a load of laundry and saw a bat clinging to the brick wall of our basement. Mom hates bats. She ran upstairs, locked the basement door, and waited for Dad to get home from work.
“Oh Honey,” Dad said when finally he got home, “don’t worry, the bat’s probably long gone by now. I’m sure it’s fine to go in the basement.”
“Will you go with me?” Mom asked.
“Sure,” Dad answered. He got a tennis racket— just in case—then unlocked the basement door and led the way down. Mom followed behind with her basket of laundry.
Dad reached the bottom first, and when Mom was half-way down the stairs, Dad turned and yelled: “DUCK!”
Mom screamed, threw her laundry basket in the air in a defensive move that sent cloths flying everywhere, and ran back up the stairs.
Needless to say, there was no bat. Just a batty husband laughing so hard he about fell over.
Or the time my brother John was re-wiring an electrical outlet in his room. He was about 17 at the time, and had already been working construction for several years. Still, Mom was nervous. “Isn’t that dangerous?” she asked. “Are you sure you should do it? Maybe it would be better to wait for your father.”
“Ah, don’t worry,” John said. “It’ll be fine. The only thing is, if I accidentally touch the positive and negative at the same time, I could form a circuit and get frozen in the electric current. So if the lights flicker, come up and knock me off the outlet to break the circuit.”
“Don’t worry,” John said. “What are the chances that’ll happen?” and he left the room with tools in hand and an impish grin on his face.
Mom went to the kitchen to make herself a sandwich. While she was busy in the kitchen, John snuck around to the hallway outside the dining room door, and there he silently awaited his opportunity. When Mom finished making her lunch, she brought her sandwich and book to the dining room to eat, as she usually does. She sat down with her back to the dining room door, and when she got herself settled, opened her book and took a bite of her sandwich, John reached around the doorway to the light switch. He flickered the lights and—BAM! Mom shot up like she’d been struck by lightning. I think it actually scared John a little, too. None of us knew Mom could move that fast—if John could sneak around inside an Olympic stadium to pull off that kind of stunt Mom would be dripping gold medals by now. As it was, the only thing that saved her from total pulmonary failure was John erupting into uncontrolled gales of laughter. Sorry Mom, but you know it’s just our way of showing we love you.
And those were just the jokes. Moms need an aorta of iron even before they get to the hard stuff. Like nights holding a small child burning with fever. Or the first day of school. And the problems that can’t be solved with a kiss or a homemade cookie (though, I tell my Mom that there really isn’t much that can’t be cured by her homemade cookies, and I’m always in need of more healing).
As a parent, you know there are situations in your child’s life that are beyond your control, and sometimes those can be the hardest to bear. Times when your children suffer disappointments, injustices, and heart breaks. Times when dreams crumble. And times when you watch your children make choices you know they’ll come to regret (knowledge often gained from our own regrets). Times, in short, when a parent prays. We may wish we could do more, but we can’t, and besides, in those situations there’s probably nothing more powerful than prayer anyway—and no one prays like a Mom.
I daresay I’ve done my share to put mileage on Mom’s rosary beads over the years. Maybe this year I’ll buy her a new rosary to replace some of the ones she’s worn out on my behalf—though it will probably be more of a gift for me than for Mom, because I still need those prayers, and I know she’s still sending them, everyday.
Which is really one of the things about Moms: God gives Mom’s big hearts because Moms need them, but even more, because He knows that we need them. We need all the love and prayers and sacrifices that flow from the hearts of our mothers, from the time we’re little tots, not allowed to leave the back yard, to those telephone calls when a Mom can hear the heartache in the voice of a grown child even from half-a-country away. And there’s really nothing we’ll ever be able to do to repay all the love our Moms have lavished upon us. All we can do is say thanks Mom, and let her know how much we love her, too—but maybe with flowers instead of practical jokes.