We were at the pool the other day when a little voice from the kiddie pool area called out, “Mom.” I quickly looked to see if the voice belonged to one of my kids even though they are all older and were at the deep end of the pool jumping off the diving boards. I knew in some part of my brain that it wasn’t my child, but that didn’t matter, I looked anyway. My mom told me that she always turned when anyone said “mom” in a store. She explained it was an automatic response, and I have learned that to be true.
If a child’s call for mom accompanies a lost look on the child’s face, mothers will not just glance that way but will step into action. At the Texas State Fair last fall, after the popular Bird Show finished, we made our way out of the crowded amphitheater. I spotted a small boy, standing by himself, calling out for his mom. I glanced at another woman who shook her head. He wasn’t her child, but in an unspoken agreement, we both started looking for his mother while also loosely corralling him so that he didn’t wander farther off or get hurt in some way. We didn’t want to scare him, but we refused to let him out of our sights. His mother came running up fairly quickly, thanking us for staying close by his side.
On May 25, 2020, when forty-six-year old George Floyd was murdered by police officers who kneeled on his neck and body, he called for his mama as he was dying. My heart broke to hear him cry out on the video. When I found out that his mother had died two years earlier, my heart broke even more. In his last moments, he needed his mother. Although, it’s probably better she was not on this earth to witness her son struggling as he did against the cruelty that took his life. No mother should ever see her child suffer like that.
Since Mr. Floyd’s death, I’ve seen the quote, “All mothers were summoned when he called for his mama.” I believe that. We mothers turn at the sound of “mom” or the cry of a child. When a child is hurt or lost, I’ve never seen a mother shrug her shoulders and walk off because it wasn’t her own kid. We make sure he is found or receives help. We don’t leave until we know the lost or hurt child is safe. We don’t look away. We answer the call of mama without even thinking.
In Isaiah, God says to his people, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” Isaiah 66:13. God knows the special relationship between a mother and child and expects the people to understand the same when he promises comfort. The love between a mother and her children is deeply rooted and unshakeable in most circumstances. That love is large and all encompassing.
But we can’t simply take care of our own children at this time. We must find ways to comfort and care for all of God’s children. Whether we march in protest, pray for peace, or teach the children in our homes about our country’s history of racism and how systems of racism still exist, we must find ways to acknowledge that the current state of affairs is unjust and unfair. We must stand with mothers of color who fear for the safety of their little boys and girls going to the park, their teenagers starting to drive, their young adults going off to college, or even their adult children leaving for work or going for a jog.
We must summon the courage and concern of mothers throughout history. We must heed the cry. We cannot look away. Not this time, not ever again.