Some years ago, I walked into a Christian bookstore in the community where the church I was serving as pastor was located.
When I walked through the door, the proprietor of the store was standing behind the counter just inside the door opening a box of books that had just arrived from the publisher. When she looked up and saw me entering the store, she smiled and laughed as she lifted up the book on the very top of the box of books she had just opened.
The title of the book, in big bold letters, was “Questions Your Pastor is Asked Most.”
The proprietor, who was a friend and knew I was a pastor, looked at me with a quizzical look, as if to say, “Well?…”
Almost without thinking, I laughed and responded, “Oh! That’s easy! ‘Do you have a key to _____________ (you fill in the blank)?’!”
Pastors are indeed asked a lot of questions, everything from the mundane (“Do you have a key to…?”) to the deeply theological (“What does the Bible mean when it says,…?”).
But pastors do not hold a candle to the questions asked of mothers.
A survey taken a few years ago in the United Kingdom and involving 1,000 mothers found that moms may be the most quizzed people on the planet. On average, from breakfast to afternoon tea time (remember this was in the U.K.) the average stay-at-home mom faces one question every two minutes and 36 seconds. That adds up to about 105,120 questions per year.
The questions spike during meal times. Girls aged four are the most curious, asking an incredible 390 questions per day.
On the other end of the spectrum, boys aged nine ask the least amount of questions.
According to the survey, the moms claimed that these were the top five toughest questions (in order): (1) Why is water wet? (2) Where does the sky end? (3)What are shadows made of? (4) Why is the sky blue?, and (5) How do fish breathe under water?
I must admit, those are some pretty tough questions!
It is Mother’s Day this weekend, and this is one of the most popular of all holidays during the year. According to FTD (the flower people), this holiday is their busiest day of the year, with Valentine’s Day a very distant second place.
In the days before cell phones, this holiday marked the highest volume of long distance charges on record for the phone companies.
And Hallmark also claims Mother’s Day for record sales. And if Moms can answer those questions asked by their children, it is obvious why this holiday is so well-observed!
Moms deserve all the accolades they can get! To give a bit of an historical perspective, on May 13, 1965, Housekeeping Monthly offered the following advice to women in what they called “The Good Wife’s Guide”:
“Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious dinner ready when your husband gets home from work. This is a way of letting him know you have been thinking about him and are concerned with his needs … Prepare yourself. Put on some make-up, put a ribbon in your hair, and be fresh-looking. He’s been with a lot of work-weary people. Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash them up, brush their hair, and change their clothes if needed. Remember, they are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part … Have a cool or warm drink for him, and arrange his pillow and take off his shoes … Over the cooler months you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. After all, catering to his comfort will bring you immense satisfaction … Let him talk first. Remember that his topics of conversation are more important than yours … Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner or entertainment without you. Instead try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his need to relax.”
Now before you put down this article in disgust, please allow a disclaimer: Obviously, times have changed. The irony is that there really is some wisdom here — it’s just buried under layers of stereotype and patriarchy.
There really is something good and noble about doing these simple, everyday tasks for another person. It’s just that it was never meant to flow just one way—from wife to husband, or from woman to man.
In the New Testament, Paul tells us all to serve one another, to defer to one another, to submit to one another. He tells husbands to love their wives, to care for their wives as they care for themselves, and to lay down their lives for their wives. (Ephesians 5:21-33; Psalm 127; Proverbs 31).
One rather famous mom, actress Sarah Drew, had this to say about motherhood: “The stay-at-home mom [or any mom] has the terrifying, holy charge of raising up little eternal beings into people who will encounter the world either through kindness and grace, or with malice and indifference. I cannot think of a more important job. And yet, our culture rolls our eyes at these women. Our culture says they’ve “given up” on doing anything [important] with their lives.
The greatest thing motherhood is teaching me is how to be present … It’s very easy for me to get buried in my phone. To check emails and texts and my Twitter feed … When I am not present in my life, I miss out on the beauty that is surrounding me. I forget to be grateful, and instead whine and complain about how things aren’t going according to plan. Meanwhile, my son, who is fully present, is busy laughing with glee at the leaves he’s chasing and at the game he has invented.”
Congratulations, moms! And Happy Mother’s Day!
God bless …
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the Hillsboro Times-Gazette and the Wilmington News Journal. He is also the former Pastor of Faith Community Church in Hillsboro and Port William UMC.