Growing up in a (then) small parish in a little town outside Savannah Ga, one of our traditions was the Mothers Day Pancake Breakfast. During Mass, some of the men would be in our parish hall cooking sausages, eggs and pancakes, so that breakfast would be hot and ready when church let out. Conversely, on Fathers Day, the women would prepare a pancake breakfast for the men. I’ll leave it to the imagination as to whose cooking skills were better. The joke was, more people would show up at the Father’s Day meal. (To be fair, I always thought the food was good at both.) This was a rare opportunity for mothers to sit and enjoy a peaceful, hot meal prepared by someone else…just as soon as you corral your toddler to the table and settle the baby in her stroller. Or, after you decide maybe the baby will stop crying after you sit her in your lap. Except, now your toddler needs help cutting his pancakes with a flimsy throw away plastic knife (cleverly used so the men don’t have to do dishes) so maybe after that, you can enjoy your food. Well, now the syrup bottle is covered in stickiness and will certainly get all over his good Sunday clothes, so you look around for a wet paper towel. Not wanting to disturb other people presumably enjoying themselves, you get up, baby in tow and head to the kitchen. Upon entering, you are told there are NO women allowed in the kitchen today, and you should be out there relaxing! After a brief explanation given over the howls of your baby, you convince someone to hand over a wet paper towel. Once back at your seat, it becomes apparent your son has already discovered how to operate the syrup dispenser at the expense of his Sunday shirt and (once) good shoes. You look around; people are starting to leave and in the interest of not wasting food, feed the baby your now-cold eggs with one hand and eat your syrup-less pancake with the other.
I was quite young during the years we had our pancake breakfast, so I cannot recall with certainty that this exact scene played out. However, I know it must have, because a variant of this happens every Sunday when my family goes out to eat, and now I’m the mother. Trying (unsuccessfully) to sit down for a meal drives home the point in a small way that as a mom, your time is not your own, nor can it be.
I grew up in a parish with women dedicated to their Church, and to their own families. These ladies didn’t complain, and they did the work necessary to take care of others. I remember the church was always beautifully decorated for Christmas and Easter, First Communion and Confirmation. At fundraisers, the tables were beautifully set, despite a small budget, and all the food was homemade to be sure. Vacation Bible School was run completely by volunteers. When there was a death in the parish, it was the women who made sure their family had a hot meal and a sympathetic ear.
When you’re a child, you have no idea how much effort it takes to pull any of this off; the hours of work, personal time sacrificed for the good of everyone else. Nobody wants to get up early on a Saturday to wash the windowsills of the Church, or iron 30 foot purple and pink Advent banners, but somebody’s gotta do it!
Even if you didn’t grow up in a similar environment, as Catholics, we all have the highest example to look to for selflessness, devotion and saying yes to others; our Blessed Mother. For Catholics, the symbolism is not lost on the month of May being dedicated to Mary, and Mother’s Day being in the same month. What better example of motherhood could we possibly have, than she who exemplified love, and who’s “yes” to God’s call changed the world? We know there is no more perfect example.
So that the mom in your life always has a place to look for solidarity, we have a variety of options for you. Among our products honoring the Blessed Mother, we have coffee mugs, rosary bracelets, books holy cards, and much more. This year, watch the kids for her while she comes into the store for some quiet shopping time.
Tara Coggin lives in Jacksonville, FL. She is a wife and mother who enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and the occasional piece of chocolate cake.