Since Hallmark tells me that it is “Mother’s Day,” I started to think about Mercy Oduyoye’s definition of mothering as “an obligation for all in any community whether then are women or men. It is doing to others what God does to, with, and for us out of God’s compassion” (Introducing African Women’s Theology, 38).
Think about this: how are mothers idealized? Giving much, taking more; creating and nurturing welcoming spaces; divine Marys, listening and responding in trust to the voice of God; showing divine love in a broken world, capable of enduring the pain of seeing the child of your womb nailed to a cross. This description of motherhood reflects Oduyoye’s overall vision of humanity as reciprocity, hospitality, response to God, and reflection of the divine. We expect this of mothers, but what would happen if we did not require women to bear this impossible, Messianic burden? What if little boys and little girls were both raised as nurturers and protectors? Perhaps humanity is so very broken in part because we have created a deep chasm between culturally gendered people. If we put our love and little pink dollies and EZ-Bake ovens and G.I. Joe toys and baseballs and bicycles into that chasm, maybe we can meet one another in the middle and create new expectations of human engagement with one another.