Something horrific happened to me yesterday. I was eating my lunch, chatting with my Mum, and suddenly - BAM - the most intense, searing, blood curdling pain came out of nowhere. I had bitten my tongue. I'll spare you the gory details, but I'm fairly certain I bit down harder than any human has ever bitten their tongue and lived to tell the tale. With puppy dog eyes I sat back on the couch, grasping my bleeding tongue in a cool wet flannel, and in that instant I began questioning God's design. What business does a thick, soft, unpredictable piece of flesh have, nestled between 32 chomping teeth?
As you can imagine, though the initial pain dampened somewhat, I was left with a very tender tongue for the rest of the day (and, well, it's still sore today to be honest!) I don't know if you've ever been in a similar predicament, but if you have, you will know what I mean when I say that I became acutely aware of my poor sore tongue and all that it does. When you consider the function of your tongue, what comes to mind? It tastes. It help you swallow. It helps you talk. I've pretty much covered it, right?
It turns out that tongues involve themselves in way more than we give them credit for. I know this because my tongue screamed at me during some surprising moments yesterday.
Tongues pronounce the letters C, D, G, J, K, L, N, Q, R, S, T, U, X and Z. Tongues are the first to receive a hot cup of tea, testing that the temperature is safe for the mouth to receive. Tongues squish up under your front teeth when you blow a kiss at your baby. Tongues absent mindedly clean food out of your teeth when you chew on bread. Tongues push toothpaste and water out of your mouth after you've brushed your teeth. They do so much. Do you give your tongue credit every day for all that it does for you?
It's Mother's Day today, and for some reason I drew a correlation between our tongues and our Mums. Sure, we know that Mums feed us, clothe us, give us a safe place to come home to. But do we consider, really consider, every tiny little function of Mums? Obviously every Mum is different in the way they serve their families, so this list is by no means an attempt at covering it all, nor is it a definitive list of things that Mums should be doing. But for consideration's sake, here are some things that Mums do that their families may not always see:
- Some Mums cook everything from scratch, from stocks to sauces, cakes to salad dressings, to ensure their families are eating the safest, most nutritious ingredients
- Some Mums organize play dates and outings to ensure their children are enriched socially and engaged with their surroundings
- Some Mums spend their down-time in the evenings catching up on dishes, laundry and vacuuming to ensure their families wake up to a clean, calm home
- Some Mums visit countless doctors and undergo invasive fertility procedures in order to conceive the child they have been dreaming about
- Some Mums get up early to pack their kids' school lunches
- Some Mums will forfeit a much-needed coffee catch-up with a friend to stay home with their sick baby
- Some Mums do everything they can to get keep their kids active, to ensure they grow up fit, healthy and strong
- Some Mums sacrifice wine and soft cheeses and deli meats and sushi to ensure that the baby growing inside their belly is kept safe and sound
- Some Mums cry as they watch their children grow, moved to tears by the passing of time
- Some Mums pray every night for their children to be blessed with good health and safety and joy
When I was growing up, I didn't see all the things my Mum did. She stayed at home to raise us, she cooked dinner every night, she showered us with affection and gifts, and she and my Dad instilled in us a fervent belief that we could do anything we hoped to do. She gave us days off school to hang out at home with her in our PJs and watch movies, she took us on endless shopping trips even though she hated shopping, she left encouraging notes in our school lunches. She knew our favourite animals and the pop stars and movie stars that we were nuts about, the books we liked to read and the friends we liked to hang out with. If we showed interest in a hobby, she would buy supplies and help us learn. At the time I just didn't really consider what it was that she was doing. She wasn't just parenting, she wasn't just putting food in our bellies and clothes on our back. All of these things that she did, big and small, whether we noticed and acknowledged them or not - they were what made her our Mum. Just like the tongue with all its secret talents and uses, my Mum - and every Mum - did many things that can easily go unnoticed and unappreciated. She still does, too. It turns out that since my sisters and I have grown up and moved out of home, she's unleashed a whole new bag of Mum tricks.
I'm less than a year into my own motherhood journey and as I reflect on this new role, I can already see the little things that I do without thinking, that became second nature the moment they put a crying baby next to me on my pillow in the hospital 7.5 months ago. It might be that nobody will ever see all these things, or realize their place in my puzzle, but they're an important part of me as a mother.
So today, as we close out Mother's Day for this year, I ask you to consider your Mum, or if you're a mother yourself, dig deep, and see the little things that go unnoticed. Take a moment to pause and look at the little picture as well as the big picture. If your beautiful mother is no longer here with you, and such a reflection isn't too unbearably painful for you, it could be a lovely way to honour her and may even be a new way of remembering her.
Let's see our Mums for every little thing they have done. Let's see ourselves for every little thing we do. Let's use Mother's Day for years to come not simply as a celebration or a day of pampering, but also as a reminder to dig a little deeper, think a little harder, and feel a little more grateful.
Mums and tongues. Who knew there was a link there?