Not long enough ago, I was fighting rats in my garage. I wasn’t fighting them in hand-to-rodent-foot combat, but for the amount of effort and energy the problem was costing me, mixed martial arts with rats would have been more efficient.
It all started with some spilled dog food. I’m always trying to teach my kids responsibility, so it’s usually their job to feed our dogs. This helps them learn to be helpful and responsible — and gives us all plenty of spilled crunchies to sweep up.
Where I live in the mountain foothills, it only takes a few stray bits of unswept kibble to attract opportunistic wildlife. I do my best to appreciate the divine in all creatures, but rodents too close to home make me territorial.
In a matter of days, my family went from wondering what kind of critter could have dug such a big hole in the flower bed to seeing rats brazenly saunter through the garage mid-day. One even stopped to stare back at me, like it was asking me to please spill some more dog food. I wondered if its fur was so glossy because it had been feasting on premium crunchies. The situation was unacceptable. Horrifying, even.
I called my mother, and she retched and groaned with me. I started strategizing to reclaim my territory, and ordered some serious traps. My mother came over to offer moral support. We were baiting my newly-arrived rat traps and discussing where best to place them when a friend called.
“Hey, can I call you back?” I said. “My mom is here and we’re working on a ... project.”
Suddenly I felt sheepish, remembering I was dealing with a very gross problem.
“What’s the project?” my friend asked.
Since she is an understanding friend, I admitted what we were up to.
“My mom and I are setting traps to hunt rats in my garage,” I told her.
My friend’s reaction surprised me.
“Oh, how great! You are so lucky you get to hunt rats with your mom! What a memory you’re making. Call me back to tell me about it,” she gushed.
I hung up with a changed perspective. The problem of rats in my garage was still awful, but I did have a loyal assistant doing her best to make it seem like an adventure. My mother has plenty of other things to do, but keeping me company while I tend to mundane tasks is her way of showing her love, and I gratefully accept it.
On Mother's Day, it’s popular to praise moms for all the helping out they do. Too often, that makes church talks about mothers sound like housekeeping job references instead of tributes to real women with thousands of divine attributes far beyond their ability to fold the family’s laundry.
Really, the house chores, the meals, the driving, the extra hours at work to pay for necessities — all these things mothers do are mere symbols of their love and devotion. It is the steady support and encouragement that mothers offer — that is what we really are attempting to acknowledge on Mother's Day, but it’s hard to articulate appreciation for feeling relentlessly loved, even when we become mature enough to realize we don’t always deserve it.
It is indeed a blessing to have a fan who is both always on your side and still nudging you towards becoming your best self.
Not everyone has a mother like that, but everyone has a Savior who sees each of us as valuable and worthy of His investment. He is with us in our triumphs and our private aches, pointing us towards better and loving us through the worst.