As we arrive at this year’s Mother’s Day, I’m inclined to ask myself “How will I manage to apologize?”
My mother’s birthday is May 8, always only a few days apart from where Mother’s Day falls during the year. Both of my parents are very special people to me, so this is naturally the time to most strongly express my love and gratitude for everything my mom is and has done in my life. Unfortunately, I will be doing so once again from a great distance.
In 2011, when Mom’s birthday came around, I was finishing up my semester in South Africa. I’m sure we skyped to commemorate, but regrettably I was absent in person. The next year I shot off on an airplane right before the big day so I could visit Hilary in France to see her for the first time in four months. With my mind occupied so heavily on my girlfriend, I doubt I paid much attention to the time of year. I was actually in the country in 2013, but cannot even vaguely remember how we celebrated or in what way I attempted to make Mom feel special. I’m not sure I tried. Now we come to May 8 once again, with Mother’s Day looming, and I’m typing this from rural Guatemala. I’m far from where a loving son should be found.
It’s all weighing very heavy on me now. A story comes to mind. My church does a VBS every summer, but when I was 12 I thought all of them were too cheesy so I came up with my own. I put off doing anything about it until I was 14, and when I was 15 our church presented its first self-written Vacation Bible School- Calvary Rocks. At the time, Thomas Nelson Publishers was trying to get in on the VBS game, and through a connection Mom had, our curriculum became a contender. My best friend Richard and I missed a day of school to show up at the top floor of Thomas Nelson Headquarters to present our ideas to the corporate office. Our PowerPoint was pretty good, but it didn’t mention any of the late nights my mom stayed with us to plan the classes. It didn’t mention that my mom filled in for us when there was work to do but we wanted to skateboard instead. It didn’t mention all the money my parents my parents poured into costumes, printing, set production, etc. Of course, we didn’t need to mention any of that. It just seems like someone should know. Parents make big sacrifices for the smallest experiences.
My mom stuck by my side through countless projects in my life, and continued to see many of them through when I was too lazy to fulfill my commitments. She’s still writing VBS, but I left the scene after three years. It drives her crazy but she still does it because she sees how much more the kids enjoy a sincere effort as opposed to an out-of-the-box, pop-up experience. Sometimes there’s no one to help, and the work comes with very little gratitude. Despite it all, she continues for the sake of the children. By the way, Thomas Nelson never did anything with Calvary Rocks, which is not surprising since our only competition was a little business called “Veggie Tales.”
I suppose it’s all weighing heavy now because I come to another birthday/Mother’s Day with no way to be with my mother, and I just want a good way to say thank you. I want to apologize for missing another special day. But I guess that just isn’t coming. So I’ll try this.
Mom, I love you and I miss you. Happy Birthday and happy Mother’s Day. I hope all your wishes come true. Thank you for everything you have been, done, and represented in my life. You gave me my creativity, my humor, and my empathy. You have sacrificed yourself every day for the entirety of my life to provide well and to raise a good Christian man. I try with everything to make you proud, to let you know you succeeded. Pieces of you are left all over because I can’t touch anything without leaving a trace of your goodness. It is a testament to the ministry you gave to your children, knowing some day we might carry the same ministry to the world. I pray for you, that God bring you peace and satisfaction, so that you know you are a daughter with very proud parents as well- one on Earth and two in Heaven. I’m sorry I can’t be there this year. I might miss next year too. But I’m thinking of you and doing the work you prepared me to do- the work of the Father. For that, I do hope you forgive me.
I love you Mom and Dad. September will be here soon enough.