Updated: Jun 10, 2020
Look closer, they are standing just outside of the frame.
This morning I woke up bright and early to sift through the hundreds of family pictures I have on my phone. My intention was quite singular too. One image at a time, one memory at a time, I would highlight my wife Kyla, the mother of our ten children (one of whom is in heaven) in order to give our kids a scrapbook of sorts of the woman who has loved them from the first. After two hours of searching however, I had to admit that a scrapbook was just not possible. For though I would have loved to create an artistic piece, full of fun and colour, perhaps even contrasting times of hardship and joy, instead I had to settle for something more akin to a snapshot. You see, though Kyla was on every page, she was also strangely absent. Yes, she was present in the kids’ smiles and in their stances. Yes, she was there in the singing I can still hear so clearly in the background of each photo as she quietly stepped out of frame, but instead of bringing her to the forefront which was my sole purpose, it seemed that she was able to step further and further into the background with every swipe of my finger.
AND THIS GOT ME THINKING...where have all the mothers gone?
Mothers are doing what they have always done. They are weaving a tapestry together for their families.
I would have thought that with COVID and the educational scramble of every home, not to mention the economic uncertainty that still looms in the west, that we would have seen more of every mother not less. Shows what I know. Mothers are doing what they have always done. They are weaving a tapestry together for their families. For their husbands, they are ensuring that in all his busy-ness he still counts his fatherhood as one of his greatest blessings.
For their children, they are smoothing out every ripple, easing the heartache that comes with so sudden a change as we have all seen quite recently.
They are whispering ‘it will be okay’ to all, as they work and teach and comfort and kiss those that God has given them, even as they turn to that same God with tears when it all just seems too much to handle. Like Mary, the Mother of Jesus, they are present and yet somehow (even at the great and pivotal moments) they tend to find a way to hold the story together without necessarily being the protagonist or even the narrator.
So here's what I am going to do.
On this mother’s day, I am going to draw Kyla a cartoon. Yes, you read that right. I am going to take the key moments from our photos and I am going to widen the frame so that each time when she thought that no one could see her, I will show her that this will never be true. The cartoon will probably be silly and it will most definitely be poorly drawn, but it will have the one thing that we Sullivans cannot and should not do without. It will have Kyla, and that will make all the difference in the world. Mothers, we see you. Thank you for holding the tapestry. And oh yes, Happy Mother's Day.
Patrick Sullivan is an author and speaker, a father of nine children, and the creator and host of "Me & My House," the Catholic parenting program that is transforming how we minister to parents in our dioceses, parishes, and communities.