Mother’s Day Isn’t Perfect. We shouldn’t expect Mother’s Day to be perfect because motherhood isn’t perfect. Define, celebrate and reflect on motherhood in your own way.
I waited impatiently for the light to blink and indicate the street was safe to cross. Late for a meeting, my mind was clouded and I just wanted to move fast. Forced into patience, I almost missed them. I watched as she wheeled her son up on the sidewalk next to me. The mother took the free moment to wipe her son’s mouth with a cloth and make sure he was comfortable. She was on her way to advocate at the state legislature with her adult child.
My husband and I grabbed our sunglasses off the table and walked hand-in-hand out of the restaurant. Without kids, on vacation, we were headed out on a day of adventuring. On my way out I saw her. The sun was shining in from the beach and light hovered around their family. She was young, my age and with kids the same age as mine. Her hair was gone and her head was wrapped in a silk scarf, her skin pale. Her kids were done eating and she let them climb on her lap. The kids squealed with delight at their mom.
She stood tall and told the room about the spirit of her mother, an unforgettable smile, a love of baking and the constant kindness she gave to her family and those that touched her life. Her mother was gone now, but family, friends, and community members stepped up to give her the mothering she needed.
Leading up to Mother’s Day, I’ve been reflecting on these different mothers and their mothering experiences. One of the true beauties of motherhood is seeing, knowing and recognizing the many ways mothering takes place outside of what we know and then using those opportunities to shape our own mothering. I remember sitting in a parenting class with my husband and hearing parents share their most vulnerable feelings and experiences. While we were not in the midst of what they were experiencing, we could, in fact, listen, process and empathize with their experience and being witness to their struggles helped us with ours. I see the same opportunities for empathy and learning for mothering, too. And this is especially true on Mother’s Day when the day takes a turn towards commercialism and competition instead of gratitude and reflection.
Mother’s Day was started by a woman named Anna Jarvis whose intention for the day was more about sentiment than commercialism with inspiration to recognize how her own mother cared for wounded soldiers during the Civil War. The intention was a celebration recognizing both motherhood and mothering.
However, the message of mothering and its importance gets lost when commercialism becomes the focus.
It gets lost when you see people flashing their new jewelry on Facebook.
It gets lost when there is an expectation of fancy brunches.
It gets lost when mothers value their own mothering by comparing their Mother’s Day celebration to other moms.
On Mother’s Day, the real gift we have is to be a mother or be mothered, by our own mother or others. Jealousy may fill our head when we see the extravagance to which others are showered on Mother’s Day. We may momentarily question our value and how our family appreciates us. We may feel down, inadequate, or disappointed in our own celebration. We may even say to ourselves that our Mother’s Day isn’t perfect. If you feel yourself being pulled down by this notion of inadequacy or imperfection on Mother’s Day, I ask you to instead find empathy and appreciation for other mothers and children on this day.
Hold in your hearts the women who are desperate to become mothers.
Hold in your hearts the mothers who have lost children.
Hold in your hearts the mothers whose children are ill or injured.
Hold in your hearts the mothers whose children are missing.
Hold in your hearts the mothers who parent alone.
Hold in your hearts the mothers who never get a break from parenting.
Hold in your hearts the mothers who are parenting their children’s children.
Hold in your hearts the children who have lost mothers.
Hold in your hearts the children whose mothers are ill or injured.
Hold in your hearts the children who have mothers but were not lovingly mothered.
Hold in your hearts the many women who mother their siblings, friends, community members, students, or others who need mothering.
Hold in your hearts all of these mothers and children on Mother’s Day.
Mother’s Day isn’t perfect.
We shouldn’t expect Mother’s Day to be perfect because Motherhood isn’t perfect.
Define, celebrate and reflect on motherhood in your own way. Spend the day in gratitude for the immense gift you’ve been given or allow space to grieve or take solitude in this day.
Define the day by what’s in your heart.
Focus on being present and not presents.
Look for examples of strength in mothering and let those stories inspire your mothering.
Know that you are loved and appreciated.
Your value in motherhood isn’t reflected on the day’s events or gifts.
Motherhood isn’t perfect and our “day” isn’t either.
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Photos: Sarah Hudson Photography