There may be a force on earth as powerful as the love of a mother. But I doubt it.

You may say it’s the force of love itself, and I’ll give you no quarrel with the power of love. But there’s something universal, timeless, transcendental and inscrutable about Mother love that cranks it up to a high notch.

Scientists do research on the value of a loving, nurturing mother and filmmakers do movies about the indomitable power of that love. But the day to day reality of it is beyond reach and grasp.

She’ll do anything for you. The greater your need the more she will try to move the heavens and the earth to answer or eliminate it. If you have an ailment or illness or any sort of pain, she will beg God to give it to her instead, to let her take it from you, but because that’s not how God works she will suffer with you and with an exquisite pain that pierces the heart and tries the soul like iron in the fire.

She may be silent and she may be profusely wordy but she searches for her own way to express what you need to hear. Or what she struggles to understand as your need to hear and her best expression to say, and it’s never right, or good, or good enough.

My friend and radio show guest Dr. Meg Meeker taps into this better than anyone, professionally and personally and poignantly. So this year she presents a Mother’s Day Challenge.

First, write down all of the things that you feel that you should be. You know, like: nicer, more patient, more assertive, less assertive, etc. We all have our own lists. Then, write down all of the things that you should do. Cook better meals, make more money, clean your house more frequently, spend more “quality time” with your kids. Having trouble coming up with your lists? You’re not being honest. Think about the “other woman” who lives in your heads and talks to you every day. You remember her- she’s the version of the mother that you should be. The perfect you, as a mom. Put her down on paper. Really let it out. Write down what she tells you that you should be doing, where you should be going, how much exercise you should be getting (mine’s telling me I should go to the gym as soon as I’m done) and how your kids would be behaving if you were more like her. Now you’re getting it. Spend some time thinking about her. What does she look like, what does she sound like? She speaks so much more nicely than you do- because she never raises her voice.

After you have done this exercise, carefully read over what you have written. I know, your kids should be in a higher reading group. Your daughter would be dancing four times per week if you had the money. Maybe you need a better job to pay for those lessons. That’s what she would do. Read the list over and over and add to it over the next couple of days.

Now- here comes the good part. Drag your pen to the bottom of the page and start scratching things off of the list. Tell her to shrink. You don’t need her in your head. She’s fictitious. She never will exist because she doesn’t need to. Here’s the best news of all: your kids don’t like her and they don’t want her as their Mom. They want you.

Replace the lists you have made with reality, Your kids want you. They want to be with you, laugh with you and do errands with you. They don’t need to be in a higher reading group, dance more, have a nicer bedroom or a cleaner house. And- they don’t really care that much about your cooking. They don’t care whether you buy brownies at the store, make them from a box or even make them from scratch. Those are YOUR issues. They just want to eat the brownie with you.

This Mother’s Day, I want to eat brownies and cookies, have tea or coffee or a toast, with my mother in gratitude for who she is. And with my sons for who they are. What inexpressible gifts.

The Second Vatican Council fathers understood this.

Wives, mothers of families, the first educators of the human race in the intimacy of the family circle, pass on to your sons and your daughters the traditions of your fathers at the same time that you prepare them for an unsearchable future. Always remember that by her children a mother belongs to that future which perhaps she will not see.

But for which she will be watchful and forever grateful.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....