Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Musings

Three generations of mothers

Mom, Mamma, Mommy, Mother, or hundreds of other renditions; regardless of the actual title the understanding is the same.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines mother as a female parent and also as woman in authority.  A mother is the person who perhaps gave birth to you (or maybe not), who raised you (or maybe not), and who loves/loved and cares/cared for you (or maybe not).  There are women who have wanted to be mothers since they were little girls and there are mothers who only entered into motherhood reluctantly.  There are women who long to be mothers and others who would be better off never bearing that title.  There are women, who by choice or circumstance, will never become mothers.  There are good mothers, bad mothers, and mothers who fall somewhere in between.  In reality mothers come in all shapes, sizes, and incarnations.

And today is (American) Mother's Day.  (Other countries celebrate a similar holiday on different days throughout the spring).  Held annually on the second Sunday of May, Mother's Day celebrates mothers and motherhood.  Today my Facebook wall is filled with pictures of mothers and warm greetings to mothers all around the world.  Unfortunately, however, this day that was once set aside to recognize mothers has become the ultimate of Hallmark holidays.  Entire advertisement campaigns for everything from jewelry and florists to clothing and yes greeting cards, have been designed around buying things for mom.  Restaurants market their special Sunday brunches and I've even seen grocery stores advertising "easy meals" that presumably children and husbands can put together for mom.  In our mass consumerism society the message is that if you aren't spending copious amounts of money lauding your mother, there must be something wrong with you.  It is virtually impossible to ignore today and yes, there are people who would like to do just that.

In the years before Sidney was born I became painfully aware of how hard it is to see motherhood so openly celebrated yet to not be a part of the much yearned for "club."  I shared this feeling of dread with several friends in similar situations.  I knew of others who were mothers in their own right but for a variety of reasons didn't have loving relationships with their own mothers and thus, didn't feel the need or desire to celebrate mom.  I had friends whose sole desire for Mother's Day was a true day off and a little peace and quiet.  And still yet there were my friends whose dearly loved mothers were no longer with them.  All of this can temper an otherwise joyous day with dread and sadness.  I try to keep all of this in mind on days like today.

I am now a mother myself and love my son dearly.  Since his birth I've become closer to my own mother and I have a new, broader perspective on the choices, struggles, and sacrifices she made to raise her three children.  And being a mother definitely isn't easy.  I totally agree with those who say it is the toughest job they will ever have.  And because of this, I guess today is "our" day.  However, we are mothers 365 days a year.  Rather than have a single day to acknowledge our efforts, we should be grateful and say thank you at every opportunity we have to all of the women in our lives.  Remember, a part of the Merriam-Webster definition includes women who are in authority. Think about this broadly and that can include pretty much everyone from biological relatives to friends, mentors and anyone else who has helped shape us into the people, and perhaps mothers, we are today. So we don't have to wait for a single day; rather be kind, respectful and thankful year around.  

Thank you to all of the women in my life who have helped make me the person I am today.

And the little boy who made me a mother

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