As you know, yesterday was Mother’s Day. It was an emotional time for me. My heart melts at the thought of my own dear mom, a great woman now gone from earth for nearly 40 years. Though decades have passed since her untimely death when I was just 9 years old, her influence on me remains steady and sure. My mother was a strong but very gentle lady. If I close my eyes, I can still hear her voice and feel the softness of her hand in mine.
I’m now blessed to be married to Jean. Like my mom, she’s a great mother. Jean is remarkable and gifted, a marvel, really. She is what every man prays and dreams for in a wife—a woman with a brilliant intellect coupled with a beautiful mind. And yet no job or task is too small or menial for her. She helps keep the Daly’s busy train on the tracks and running at peak efficiency. Laughter rings within our walls because Jean loves to laugh and because she’s a mom who doesn’t take herself (or me!) too seriously.
And so, along with our two boys, Trent and Troy, I thank the Lord for my great wife and their dear mother, Jean Daly.
It’s fitting to set aside a day to honor mothers. At the same time, I’m aware that such an occasion isn’t all sweetness and light for some. There are those who, like me, lost their mother to death at a young age. Maybe you’ve only recently been forced to say good-bye. Perhaps the wound is still very real and raw. Others might be estranged from their mom. If that’s you, there might be pain and anger and hurt keeping you apart.
My heart also breaks for the scores of women who long to be mothers but whose dreams have been delayed due to infertility, illness or any other variety of reasons. And then there are mothers who have lost their children to inexplicable tragedy. Please know you are not forgotten. You are not forsaken. The Lord knows and He cares. He is close to the brokenhearted.
In that spirit, Focus on the Family is here to help and give comfort. We’re a ministry dedicated to helping families of all kinds cope and manage regardless of their circumstance. Not coincidentally, the Pew Research Center came out last week with a new report titled, The New Demography of American Motherhood. Based upon data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Census Bureau, researchers compared and contrasted mothers who gave birth in 2008 with mothers who gave birth in 1990.
What did they find? Like anything else, depending upon where you sit, there is both good news and bad news in the numbers:
Good News: In proportion to all newborns, teenage births have decreased (from 13% to 10%) and the birthrate for women over 35 has increased (up from 9% to 14%).
Bad News: The out-of-wedlock birthrate is soaring to unprecedented levels. In 1990, 28% of all births in America were to unmarried women. In 2008 nearly half (41%) of all new mothers were not married.
New mothers are now more likely to be better educated. In 1990, 41% of new moms had attended college. In 2008 the majority (54%) of mothers had spent some time in the classroom beyond high school.
Researchers were also curious to inquire about women’s overall attitudes toward motherhood. On a very positive note, when asked why they wanted to have children in the first place, 87% of the moms agreed with the statement “The joy of having children.” Perhaps not-so encouraging was that 47% of all respondents who also answered by saying “There wasn’t a reason; it just happened.”
The march toward parenthood is not always a predictable and easy journey. In an age of quick answers and miraculous medical technology, we’re often lulled into thinking that having a family is as easy as ordering off a menu. It’s not always the case. There remains in the mix an enormous measure of mystery. It was Solomon who so wisely and eloquently wrote, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). But every believer can take hope and solace in the reality of God’s sovereignty.
Mother’s Day might only be observed on the second Sunday of May each year, but I think we shouldn’t treat it like a single act play. Yesterday we told mothers how much we love and appreciate them. Let’s spend the time between this year and next showing them in tangible and meaningful ways that they are a gift to us each and every day.