Breaking all the rules today: it’s Sunday, this will take more than five minutes, and I’m rolling two posts into one. Oh yeah – I’m also using improper grammar/vocabulary because I’m pretty sure “yer” isn’t an accepted dictionary word. Let it slide today my friends, will you?
I know I’m feeling contrary but I want to ask why mothers must feel bad for the fact there’s a day that celebrates them, why they must feel bad for the fact they were able to become mothers in one way or another, why in recent years we’ve started to feel we must celebrate in hushed tones rather than accept one specific day of appreciation?
It’s so typical Martyr Mom, isn’t it? “Oh no, no, sweetheart, I wouldn’t want to do anything for Mother’s Day. I might make someone feel bad if they weren’t a mother.” It’s a tricky spot to be in.
It’s a little bit like the way my sons feel when I compliment one of them. I tell Rex, “I really like the comic book you’re making.” Bobo hears that and comments, “You don’t like the thing I’m making.” Over and over, I assure them that if I compliment one of them, it has nothing to do with the other. Just because I say one of them is good at something, it doesn’t follow that the other is BAD at it, less than, or anything relating to them at all. It is just me calling out something about one individual. It isn’t a finite substance — as if there’s only so much talent available.
It may stem from some twisted old-timey notion that full womanhood is realized in motherhood, or that somehow women are redeemed through childbirth. We don’t have time to dig into the origins of that now, nor can we dwell on how that informs our current attitudes, but if a person is seen as forever less-than if they’re not a mother, then it’s no wonder there are some significant hang-ups surrounding it.
If you ask me, people would be smart to create their own personal Mother’s Days. Think of the brunch pandemonium we could avoid. Imagine the pick-me-up moms could get in northern regions where winter can drag on for way too long. Pop your own personal Mother’s Day in the middle of that, and break up the monotony. And does anyone save any money by purchasing flower baskets or earrings marketed around Mother’s Day? Not likely. Plus, I’ve got to say, I don’t really desire to hear “Happy Mother’s Day” from a pulpit or a person who is not somehow related to my mothering or somehow being my mother. There’s something about seeing Mother’s Day doggie leashes (Now Mom can walk the dog in style!) or Mother’s Day paperclips (Help keep Mom organized!) that detracts from the sincerity of the occasion anyways. However, Mother’s Day is firmly established now, and if the baseline is a Mother’s Day card that costs $5, you know that corporate America isn’t going be quick to give up Mother’s Day. It’s too big of a money maker.
As I write this, I’m sitting at a restaurant, waiting for my mom. She’s supposed to meet me, but she’s lost. She gets lost a lot. She is more of an instinctual, landmark-reliant driver rather than a direction-following driver. Even if you write out directions for her, she doesn’t generally get there the way you map it out for her.
That sums up her approach to a lot of life. She doesn’t set out to challenge the status quo; it’s her inherent BS sniffer and her inquisitive mind that prompt her to ask the question on everyone’s minds, to say what no one else is willing to, or to proclaim that the Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes. Before they retired, she was a pastor’s wife (although, do you ever really stop being a pastor or a pastor’s wife, even after you retire? It’s kind of hardwired by that point.). She never did fit that stereotype, and that was a constant source of both pride and struggle for her. When people don’t know how to categorize you, it’s easier to just dismiss you as an anomaly rather than find a new spot for you in their minds.
Mom is opinionated, curious, adventurous, spontaneous, restless, loyal, and sensitive. She thinks non-linearly, which can make the linear people around her a little crazy. And let’s admit it, she is a little nuts. She’s random, resourceful, freakin’ hilarious, and sometimes doesn’t know when to quit. She’s one of those who underestimates the power of her words because she underestimates her significance. That underestimation can lead to misunderstandings, and coupled with a zinger or two, it can be a dangerous combination. On the one hand, she’s surprised that anything she’d have to say would actually mean something important to anyone, and on the other hand she’s hurt when it isn’t heard. She’s contradictory that way. Oh crap. Didn’t I say at the beginning of this that I was feeling contrary? I AM becoming my mother!
I’m grateful for her. She’s an unceasing cheerleader, and sees the potential for good things for all her kids. She believes in you, even when you don’t have the courage to believe in yourself.
I’m grateful there’s a special day created that helps people take time to acknowledge the mothers in their lives. On top of that, I’m grateful for the many people who have been mother-types to me throughout my life, for the women who modeled serving behind the scenes, and those who modeled leading from up front. I’m grateful for the people who helped me when things were hard, the people who teamed with me to try something new, who fed my hair-brained schemes and picked me up after epic failures. These may not have all been women, but in many senses these people played a mother role in my life.
From the objections I raised about feeling bad about being a mother on Mother’s Day, I know you’re questioning my sensitivity to those for whom this is a difficult day. It’s not that we shouldn’t have Mother’s Day, nor should we exalt motherhood. A woman is more than her ovaries, and a woman need not have a child to be fully actualized. Not every woman wants to be a mother. I know there are women out there who long to be mothers and cannot, those who have become mothers and could not raise that child, adoptions that have fallen through, heartache that seems bottomless. These things don’t stop being a part of us when this day passes. I hope we can all be kind to the varied circumstances of others, and not assume that our story is the story of every person we meet, easy story or difficult story.
We can all be mothers to one another. We can be tender, we can be tough, we can be supportive, we can be stern. Even if we didn’t have those loving mothers in our lives, we can find them. They are out there. You may already have one in your life and just never viewed him/her as such. You might have an opportunity to mother someone (you don’t have to call it that) and help them find their footing, their voice, or their stride. That is an important role. Do not diminish it just because it doesn’t involve an infant.
Let’s all become the best people we can be, and inspire one another to take those leaps of faith that are done so much more easily with the support of others.
You can do it. I can do it.
We are better together.
Happy Mother’s Day.