Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mother's Day Moves Me

I LOVE Mother's Day. There, I've said it, and I hope the moms-who-absolutely-do-not-love-or-even-remotely-enjoy-mother's-day crowd will look upon me with as much tolerance as possible. Why? Because I can't help myself. Mother's Day makes me smile...every sentimental-bordering-on-saccharine piece of it. In fact, I actually look forward to the entire spectacle. Even when I don't have a missionary in the field whose voice I am longing to hear, I look forward to it. Even when I trade the deluxe breakfast-in-bed package for a poached egg on dry toast with grapefruit, I look forward to it. Even when we get uplifting pamphlets in lieu of chocolates after sacrament meeting, I look forward to it.

I just look forward to it. Despite the reality that many of my friends do not, I look forward to it. And I'm happy to tell you the reason: Mothers, because of and despite the fact that we come in all shapes, shades, sizes, temperaments, psyches, skill-sets, skill-levels and degrees of spiritual evolution, deserve a day that celebrates us. Each one of us. Every flavor. And fathers deserve their day, too.

After all, raising children is a hard job––and too often, a thankless one. It's good to have a day when sons and daughters are reminded to take time out from their busy lives and pay a little tribute to their parents, beginning (as they began) with the proud owners of those wombs that accommodated them for nine months. Sheesh! Those nine months alone make a person deserving, don't they? To say nothing of the whole nursing thing. And for those moms who bottle fed and/or did not carry their children in utero, the first year of living with a newborn deserves all the flowers and cards and compliments imaginable, and then some! Add to that the terrible twos (paired with their frequent recurrence in adolescence), and a badge of honor seems more than fitting.

As for the pundits and speakers, when they start rolling out Lincoln-esque remembrances of their own (or other people's) "angel mothers," instead of taking these as gospel and feeling sure we can never measure up, why not chalk their flowery words up as happy evidence that mothers are often given the benefit of the doubt in the memories of their adult children? Because no one is perfect. Not even Mrs. Lincoln, aka the Mominator. And no one is an angel, either. Which is as it should be in the land of human beings.

Having established that, the truth is simple: We are the best mothers our children will ever have. That, in itself, makes us special. We become special to our children because we are theirs. We belong to them with a deep kind of belonging that only years of relationship can develop. Remember "The Little Prince," by Antoine de Saint-Exupery? A single rose becomes his because he cares for it. Over time, he realizes that no other rose can or ever will be quite as lovely as the valued and valuable one that is his by virtue of gifts exchanged and experience shared. He looks out over a field of roses and addresses them poignantly: "You are beautiful, but you are empty. One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose––the rose that belongs to me––looked just like you. But in herself, alone, she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses; because it is she that I have watered." Our children have watered us with their love (we belong to them), and we have watered them with ours (they belong to us). We need not be intimidated by images of angel mothers or stories of perfect womanhood, nor should we beat ourselves up with them. Rather, let us choose to be lifted up and inspired by their beauty. As we begin to see within ourselves the seeds of divine destiny and motherhood that exist inside each one of us, our hearts and minds open wide to becoming all that we truly are. "A pile of rocks ceases to be a rock when somebody contemplates it with the idea of a cathedral in mind" (Saint-Exupery). If Mother's Day and all its trappings leave you feeling like a rock, try looking at yourself and seeing the cathedral. It's a choice, and every one of us can make it.

In other words, Mother's Day should have nothing to do with comparing ourselves and everything to do with repairing ourselves. Rather than reminding ourselves of what we are not, we should be honoring ourselves for what we are. Mothers. Bearers of life. Co-creators with God. Whether we are called upon to exercise the full extent of these gifts in this life or to delay actual childbearing until the next, that is our divine role. And yes, it is a gift.

Should we detest the 4th of July because we aren't "good enough" patriots? Do we feel guilty or shamed when we hear inspiring accounts of patriotism, or do we feel inspired and motivated to be better citizens? I'd be willing to bet that most of us feel inspired and motivated. Why should Mother's Day be any different? It shouldn't be; and if it is, we have attached a lot of invalid baggage to it, baggage that needs dumping. Rather than feeling shamed, threatened, or deficient when faced with the usual Mother's Day message of magnificent motherhood, why not decide to soak up all those lofty ideals and beautiful stories, mix them into a soothing salve of heights and possibilities, and apply the result liberally as healing balm to whatever mothering wounds we've sustained in the year gone by? If we can replace beating ourselves up with lifting ourselves up, we can become as beautiful to ourselves as the rose was to The Little Prince. We are already beautiful to our children, and maybe those roses we so often receive on Mother's Day can remind us of that!

Enough said. Even if the greeting card companies started it, I love Mother's Day. Even if we have to listen to "Love at Home" year after year (testifying to the fact that there actually is NOT joy in every sound), I love Mother's Day. It's good for my soul, because it makes me feel appreciated. And it makes me feel appreciative, too...of my mother in particular and of all mothers in general.

I know that some women find Mother's Day especially difficult because their homes are not yet and may never be blessed with children in this life. Many of these women, who frequently act as wonderful surrogate mothers to a number of God's children, feel bereft as Mother's Day rolls around. I suspect that the basic principles for healing woundedness are the same in this instance as set out above, but I imagine they are infinitely harder to apply. That's why I won't even bother to mouth platitudes but will conclude with these words from President Brigham Young, comforting those childless women who had been faithful to their temple covenants: "Many of the sisters grieve because they are not blessed with offspring. You will see the time when you will have millions of children around you. If you are faithful to your covenants, you will be the mothers of nations. ... Be faithful, and if you are not blest with children in this time, you will be hereafter" (Deseret News [Weekly], 28 Nov. 1860, 306).

The waiting cannot be easy, and I pray for the day when your arms will be as full as your mother hearts already are.

Happy Mother''s Day to all of us.


Karen said...

Amen! I love Mothers Day too! Love the quotes from The Little Prince.

Jess said...

Mother's day IS the best, even if you aren't a mom yet- you have a mom, and that's reason enough to celebrate. you know the whole life thing?

And I can't agree more- that 'we are the best mothers our children will ever have'- because Heavenly Father specifically sent us our children.

jen said...

And I love that we become special to them. We don't expect them to be perfect, and yet we love them. Why can't we see that the reciprocal is also true?
Thanks, Sue. Hit it on the head again!

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

Thanks Sue, I needed this today.

Amy said...

It sure is nice to have a day to be appreciated. What beautiful words you give out. Thanks for the perspective.

Sistas in Zion said...

Beautiful Post! I love when you said Mother's day is not about comparing, but about repairing. So true! This Sunday I will remember to tell my Mother that I am grateful for the "Best Mother I Will Ever Have!"

Michelle said...

Thank you, Sue! This is refreshing and true. We DO need to rid ourselves of the paralyzing baggage that pulls us down as mothers. Personally, I think there are few things more devil-driven than such self-sabotage. (When I feel God helping me want to be a better mother, it's a lot different than those awful, despair-filled thoughts of 'not good enough. not good enough.'

(I'd also like to put a plug in for those mothers who did not carry their babies in their wombs, but still had months of worry and wonder as they waited for adoptions to go through and then be final, and.... Anyone who says it's easier to adopt than bear your own children has never watched someone go through the grueling process.) ;)

Happy Mother's Day to all!

Lisalulu said...

Very nice, you touched all the bases, and some I hadn't... I like to think of it as celebrating Women's day. Have a great one yourself.... since you are a mother of a ward too! Just think of all the cards/flowers/candy winging their way to you!!

karen said...

Well OK... but I draw the line at receiving an inspirational pamphlet instead of chocolate.

Darlene said...

I just have to tell you how much I enjoyed your special words today. I have always loved Mother's Day too. It is the one day that I get a telephone call from all of you wonderful children.

You do have a way with words, my dear, and you buoy me up so many times with your use of them. It is a great feeling to know that your children love you and appreciate all that you have done for them.

I do miss my mother terribly and especially do I miss her on Mother's Day when everyone is remembering their Mother's. I do know, however, that wherever she is, she knows that she is always in my thoughts. Never a day goes by but what I don't feel her spirit in some way.

I hope that all of you will remember that when I am gone, I will be with you and watching over you. I know that Mother spirit is alive eternally.

Thank you again for lifting me up today and also for the beautiful orchid you sent me. It just arrived minutes ago and phalaenopsis have always been my favorite orchid. Also, I have secretly ever wished for an orchid and since I have never had one, I just hope I don't kill it!! Admiring it each day will hopefully remind me that I must follow the directions to take good care of it. This variety is so interesting, I have never seen a miniature orchid. It is so delicate and quite quite lovely. Thank you for for it and for being such a wonderful daughter.

Myrna Foster said...

This is a beautiful argument for Mother's Day. Thanks.

Braden Bell said...

That was an excellent post, Sue. One of the best I've read all week. My wife doesn't like Mother's Day for some of the reasons you mention, even though she's a wonderful mother. I'm going to have her read this. Thanks!

Karen Mortensen said...

I used to hate Mother's Day for various reasons. First, I wasn't a mother until I was 29. Then I was a mother and my son was disabled and then I found out I couldn't have any more kids because I carried Fragile X and my other children could get it.
Then one day my wise mother told me that Mother's Day was NOT about me. It was a day for me to think about my own mother and be grateful for her.

That advice has made all the difference to me.

Grandma Honey said...

My mother was one of those who hated Mother's day. She had 8 children and was always in a bad mood on that day only. So growing up my expectations of that day were obviously not much. But as an adult, I've loved this day. It has always been a day for me to think of all the special women in my life...the ones who have been there for me, influenced me. Mostly my own angel mother. Like I said, I only remember her being in a bad day on Mother's day.

Caroline said...

I love Mother's Day too!! I think it's an important thing to celebrate and you are right on with this post.

p.s. Happy Mother's Day to you! :)

CB said...

Great post! I love love love being a MOm!! I like Mother's Day because they treat me like a queen but even if they didn't I would still love my beautiful gift...that of being a Mother.

I also loved what you said in the middle of your post - "We are the best Mothers our children will Have".
I love that!

Unknown said...

You're right. I need to have a better attitude about Mother's Day. I feel like it's always been a chore for my family to even acknowledge this holiday. I never feel special. Maybe that's my own fault. I usually spend the day feeling like a failure.
I'm going to try to make this a better Mother's Day this year!