The Day Joe Took Mom to Hooters

Without a doubt, the absolute worst Mother's Day sermon I ever heard was preached while I was an undergraduate. My own family was celebrating the day with my mom at home, over 400 miles away. Feeling a bit homesick, I thought it might be nice to be surrounded by families that Sunday morning, so I headed off campus to a busy neighborhood church.

The priest helping out for Mass that day had a solemn face and sharp eyes. His Mother's Day homily started out predictably enough, with a kind greeting to all the mothers in the congregation, and a few words of thanks for all the things mothers do for their children. Then things got weird. 

"Sometimes, however," the priest stressed ominously, "Mother gets tired. Sometimes Mother cannot
© David Reimche/Getty Images
take us places we want to go."
Fair enough, I thought.
"Sometimes Mother gets sick. Maybe Mother needs it quiet, so our friends can't come over to play." 
OK, sure.
"Sometimes Mother punishes us for something we didn't do. Or maybe Mother drinks too much."
What now?
And then, with emphasis: "But when we lay Mother to rest. . . ."

I'll never know what happened next to Mother's corpse, because at that very moment during the homily someone in my pew made a shocked, half-strangled, laughing noise. (Me, possibly?) Ah, Mother's Day memories.

I'm certain that church experience was a fluke; most Mother's Day celebrations--religious or otherwise--focus not on the greedy fingers of death, but on the beauty of women who care for others. That "genius of women" Saint John Paul II championed is the natural inclination women have to receive love graciously and to return love generously. Jesus calls all human persons to this kind of love; women simply tend to respond more readily, often choosing lifestyles centered on caring for others.

My own mom is just such a woman. The first thing I think of when I think of my mom is her tireless work for others. My mom is the quintessential hostess and housekeeper, making every visitor "feel welcomed and treasured" (as my dad says) in her warm, orderly, squeaky-clean home.

Does my mom look like this?

Well, maybe a little. She is awfully cute, after all. And she has a great smile.
But let me tell you a story,
a story to convince you not to mess with my mom.

When my brother Joe was in high school, he was the kind of kid who enjoyed learning life's lessons the hard way. He has always had a brilliant mind, but back in the day, he didn't have a lot of time to sit around considering if-then control statements. That's how he ended up at Hooters.

Did you expect me to include a picture of the waitresses at Hooters?
Not on your life.
This super-cute Zazzle Owl will be the only hooter on this family-friendly blog.

So Joe and his buddies went out for lunch at Hooters. Caught up in adolescent ecstasy, I suppose, Joe bought a souvenir: a Hooters T-shirt. He brought it home. And then he put it in the laundry hamper. Since Joe had not yet learned how to wash clothes, he must have imagined that the hamper was the gateway to a magical land of clean. He must not have realized that an actual person--our mom--manually emptied that hamper approximately six times a day. Thus my mom discovered Joe had been hanging out with the ladies at Hooters.

The next day when Joe got home from school, Mom was ready: as Joe's bus stopped at the bottom of the driveway, Mom settled herself into a kitchen chair, facing the door, cradling the traitorous T-shirt in her lap. Unsuspecting, Joe burst through the door, ready to holler "I'm home!" Catching sight first of Mom, then the T-shirt, Joe froze, slack jawed, with the doorknob still clutched in his hand. Mom broke the silence:

"Get in the car."
"What?" Joe asked.
"Get in the car. You're taking me to Hooters. If it's good enough for you and your friends, it's good enough for me."
"No, Mom, I can explain. . . ."
"Get. In. The. Car."

Joe got in the car.

A few minutes later, Joe and Mom were sitting side by side on bar stools, Joe with his untouched Mountain Dew, Mom with her Chardonnay. Really hitting her stride now, Mom proceeded to comment on the giftedness of the wait staff, variously endowed, as Joe prayed for the world to end.

"Are we done here?" Mom asked at last.
"YES. Oh, yes."
"Are you coming back?"
"No, Mom."
"Good. Let's go."

My brother is now a talented man in his thirties. A couple of years ago, some of his work colleagues decided to go out for lunch on a Friday afternoon.

"I'll join you," Joe chimed in. "Where are we going?"
"The new Hooters down the road."
"Oh, I can't go."
The other guys scoffed: "Ha, ha. What, your wife won't let you?"
"No--my mom."

And that, my friends, is how my mom rolls. You'll never see innovative problem-solving advice like this in a parenting book. Heck, the Apostleship of Prayer might "misplace" this unconventional post before the day is out. But this is a blog for adults looking for prayerful ways to inspire their parenting, and I'm pretty sure Mom's trip to Hooters with Joe was a gift of pure inspiration from God.

May Mother's Day inspire all women to care for others in astonishing ways.

P.S. I love you, Mom!

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