“Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him, with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, ‘What do you want?’ She said to him, ‘Command that these two sons of mine may sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.’ But Jesus answered, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We are able.’ He said to them, ‘You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.’ And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers.” (Mt 20: 20-24)

Because it is Mother’s Day in the United States, I am thinking about this instance of “over-mothering,” I think, on the part of the mother of James and John. (Some have even suggested that Christ nick-named these two Apostles “Sons of Thunder,” or “Boanerges,” in humorous reference to the strong character of their mother.) The incident quoted above makes me think gratefully of my own mom, and how, while being a woman of very strong character, she would never pull a stunt like this. She would never be either pushy or even defensive about us, her own children. If ever there was a complaint about us, say, from teachers or other parents, she was never the type to justify us, or say, “My child would never…,” – no, even if we protested our innocence in the matter. She made us go and apologize, no excuses, and to sort things out.

I’ll admit that as a child, I sometimes felt very grieved by this kind of “tough love” from my mom. But as an adult, looking back, I’m very grateful that she saved us, by raising us as she did, from a mentality of victimhood. It was rather a mentality of accepting responsibility, and perhaps many parenting-manuals will disagree with this approach. But I find it helpful to this day, whenever I’m confronted with others unhappy with me, whether justly or unjustly. I know I just have to deal with it, and don’t expect, or feel entitled to, someone else swooping in to defend my “rights” or my “honor.” So, thank you, mama! And Happy Mother’s Day, dorogaya!

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