Sometimes they work so hard that they collapse from pure exhaustion.
I often wondered if my own mother ever slept. When I was young she was awake when I went to bed and had been up for hours by the time I got in the morning.
When our children were growing up on the farm, I often marveled at how my wife, Glenda, managed to take care of three children, two dogs, and a husband, and still find time to drive a pickup truck home with a load of feed and bake dozens of loaves of bread. That our children get raised and learn how to take care of themselves is a tribute to unbelievable patience of the mothers of the world.
Just as amazing to me is how the mothers of the world build networks of support where none are apparent to most of us. That they can somehow find others to willingly help is a tribute to the importance of their jobs and their resourcefulness.
For sixteen years before my mother became a mother she was an aunt to a large extended family of children. She might have had more influence as an aunt than she did as a mother. She certainly touched more people. She taught a few of her nieces how to drive. Making sure that her nieces and nephews had a good Christmas morning was no different than what she would have wanted for them if they were her own children. She even dragged one of her nephews off to another school to make sure he got a better education.
Not everyone is blessed with the opportunity of having children but that does not stop the best among us from helping to mother the children of the world. I know there are times when a friend or aunt like my mother might come and rescue an overworked mother for a few hours. I suspect those moments are precious. Sometimes it might be delivering a carload of toys, clothes, shoes, and food for children whose parents' money just will not stretch far enough. Maybe it is just taking a child for a walk when a mother needs just a few moments to herself or perhaps even a shower without company.
While I know God created grandparents just to help raise the next generation, somehow we all seem to live too far apart to help as much as we would like. Maybe that is why on mother's day, I want to remember my mother as much if not more for the mothering that she provided to others.
I can still remember a trip to Roanoke last year when this young lady ran up and hugged my wife. She was wearing the medical clothing of a profession. It turns out she was a teenager who spent a few weeks with us when she and her parents could not tolerate each other. She thanked us for the help we provided when she needed it the most. She has turned out well and as a mother can now appreciate the challenges that she created as a teenager.
There are a lot of aunts, cousins, grandmothers, and just good friends who help with the mothering of the next generation. As we think about our mothers on Mother's Day, I hope we do not forget those whose timely help to the mothers of our children can sometimes make all the difference in the world. We live in a complex century and the children who will thrive in it need all the nuturing and support that they can get.