Bestselling author Anne Lamott wrote a book titled Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers.
Which mother can’t identify with the “help” part?
Help me tolerate the noise.
Help me as they shriek and pull on my skirt when it’s time to stay in preschool for the day.
Help me distinguish between good and bad, ditto for my kids.
Help me put lunch on the table—before dinnertime.
Help me keep them clean even though I’m ready to collapse.
Help my son get over his friend’s comment.
Help my children feel loved.
Help me tell them the right stories.
Help me remember that my husband isn’t just a partner in running an orphanage.
Help me remember that they’re almost always innocent.
Help me remember who the adult here is.
And please help me behave like one.
Help me pull out of my tantrums.
Help me end the week-long vacation with the kids in dignity.
Help me drink my tea while it’s still hot, without compromising the kids.
Help me remember what I stand for, and bounce back when I lose it.
And when I’m just gasping for air, when uttering “help” is beyond my strength, I sigh—a quiet scream for help as prescribed by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.
Now, in addition to the spontaneous “help” messages that you aim into God’s inbox, some of the more official Jewish prayers include the same three components that Lamott lists in her book, with one difference: Wow comes before everything else:
Wow, help, thanks.
Wow! You are the creator who had given me my soul back this morning. I’m alive!
Wow! You provided sunshine, rain, and soil for the cucumbers and carrots I put in the kids’ lunch boxes.
Wow, You’ve sustained generations upon generations of mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, so that I could give life to my own children. Halleluya!
…So, obviously, You’re the One who can help me out.
You, Who are everywhere and in everything, I need Your input. I need Your presence. I need Your help.
From the History Channel I learn that a woman by the name of Anna Jarvis created Mother’s Day in America, which became an official U.S. holiday in 1914.
“Jarvis would later denounce the holiday’s commercialization and spent the latter part of her life trying to remove it from the calendar.”
Commercialism aside, I do see the value of dedicating 12 hours to recognizing mothers and their enormous contribution to humanity.
And still, I’m not a big fan of the official Mother’s Day. I suspect that society needs the reminder much more than mothers themselves. I prefer to express daily appreciation for my loyalty and commitment by drinking my tea while it’s still hot,
as my kids—big and small– are around me in the afternoon.
However, as I was contemplating on the value that this day could instill in our families—I realized that it’s a chance to put the Wow first.
A big “wow” for mommy, the one whose caring presence is tangible in the lunch box and in the braided hair hours after the kids walked out the door; and in phone calls and prayers and helpful visits when they no longer live with her under the same roof.
But of course, that won’t last for long, because “Help” is soon to follow- give me more peas, I need money, read me a book…
And, oh, thanks mom.
Happy Mother’s Day, happy every day!
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