As I am wont to do every year at this time, I have been pondering Mother’s Day.
Since my Mom died…. almost ten years ago (how is that possible?) the day has been a hard one for me. When I look for cards for the other people in my life who have mothered me or my family, I can’t help but feel socked in the gut by mising her. It’s a hole that I feel all the time, even though I funcion well around it most of the time But when this day on the calendar comes around I stub my toe on what I am missing over and over and over again.
Pain almost always opens the doorway to empathy for others if we let it. Feeling the pain of missing my Mom on Mother’s Day opened my eyes to others for whom the day was less than celebratory. Before long I realized that my friends who were dealing with infertility felt their own empty arms more acutely on this day. That my friends who had lost babies missed the hand-made cards with crayon and backward letters. My friends who had chosen not to be mother’s felt de-valued and were reminded again that society inflates motherhood in a way that can make a woman feel invisible if she doesn’t have a child.
I have friends who had difficult relationships with their mothers or who were abandoned by them. This day stings for them too. I have friends whose husband’s are deployed and the person who would normally lead the charge in celebrating them isn’t there.
I’ve come to believe that almost any holiday is a double-edged sword for some people, but Mother’s Day seems to be a day which can cut especially deep.
But…. BUT… Mother’s Day is supposed to be a celebration of women who deserve to be celebrated. And each year when I’ve felt mopey or expressed the difficulties of the day there was another voice that whispered, “Lighten up! It’s just a day about appreciating people! Should the amazing mothers of the world not be appreciated simply because a Hallmark Holiday is painful for several subgroups of people?”
In fact, proposing to do anything but happily celebrate Mother’s Day can actually be pretty controversial. And that makes sense I guess. There is a reason “Your Momma” jokes end in fist-fights so often, right? I learned this the hard way this year when a sharing of my favorite Author’s sentiments on the subject of the difficulty of Mother’s Day rapid cycled into name-calling and anger and “I’ll celebrate Mom’s if I want!” type sentiments.
It took me a while to pinpoint why it was that the defensiveness bothered me so, but finally I did. I realized that what that communicated to me was that in the name of clinging to the celebration of the day, people were deliberately choosing to overlook the expressed pain of others who struggled with the day.
And that led me to the idea of Support. Because I don’t know a woman in the world who isn’t in need of support in one way or another.
What if the day wasn’t just a day of Celebration but also a day of Support?
This is what I’m proposing… for myself at least.
For this Mother’s Day and the ones that follow, I want to focus on honoring and supporting the women in my life. In my mind, and on my calendars I am going to cross off ‘Mother’s Day’ and make it ‘Support All the Women!’ day.
And to celebrate this auspiciously and personally re-named holiday I am going to do things like… Bring Ice Cream to the daughters of my dear friend who passed away this year. Because I know this Mother’s Day is going to hit them hard.
I am going to send cards and flowers and gifts to the women in my family who love me and my babies so well as Mothers and Grammas.
I am going to listen to my friend who speaks out about her choice to be childless and how she finds her highest happiness and feels the most herself because of, not in spite of, that choice.
I am going to celebrate and thank the women around me who give birth to ideas, and beauty, and the affecting of change in the world around me each and every day…. whether or not they have also birthed children.
I am going to enjoy the cards that my babies make and the flowers that they pick for me. When my husband is home, I will revel in that, and when he isn’t I’ll revel in the love he sends me across the miles.
I am going to reach out to those, who like me, are missing their mother’s.
I am going to reach out to those who I know are battling infertility. Or who have been pierced by the loss of a child.
I am going to choose to see all the facets of the women in my life and all the ways in which a day focused on the role of Motherhood impacts them. Because let’s face it, Motherhood is as often villainized as it is venerated.
And I am just going to simply choose love on this day, which has been historically hard for me. And in doing so, I think I will find the feelings of celebration that I’ve felt so guilty for overshadowing for the last several years.
Women in My Life: Know this. I see you. I appreciate and celebrate you. I love you. I want to hear the hard of this day–and others. I want to celebrate with you the joys that this day brings! I want to shout out loud all the ways you birth life and ideas and creativity into the world. I want to weep with you, and laugh with you, and be with you, and SUPPORT you.
Because above all else. Regardless of choices or life circumstances, we ALL need support, and love, and to be seen right where we are.