Recently my siblings and I received an email from our mother, announcing that she and her best friend (another mother of a bunch of grown children) had decided they no longer wished to receive gifts for Mothers Day. Her reasoning was that she already knew how much we all loved her and didn’t require any additional proof. Instead, she said, we should simply bask in the gifts and attentions of our own families.
This from the woman who never stopped celebrating Mother’s Day with her own mother until Grandma finally passed away.
Although I have not attempted to take on Mother’s day, I did try a few years ago to cancel my birthday. After about twenty-five, no one really wants to be reminded about the ceaseless ticking away of the life clock. Not that there is anything wrong with being thirty, forty, fifty, sixty etc… but who wants to have to have it thrown in their face on an annual basis. But, despite my best efforts, I still am forced, once a year, to celebrate my slowly declining body, diminishing eye-sight and the fact that there is no chance I will EVER have a body like Demi Moore.
But then Mother’s Day isn’t really about mother is it? This holiday was originally established by a daughter as a way for her and other children like her, to remember and honor all the years of sacrifice and effort her own mother had made in bringing her into the world and raising her.
As I look back on my own life, I know I didn’t really understand the depth of my own mother’s love or the challenges she faced raising me until I became a mother myself. As I held my first born baby daughter in my arms a few hours after she’d been born, I had this sudden understanding of my own mother’s life.
How can a child or teenager really get the immense weight that comes with caring for the every need of a helpless infant? Or the fear that freezes a mother’s heart when her young child wanders off in a department store? Mom’s knows from day one how vigilant they must be to protect their young from the evils of the world such as child molesters, pornography, or the tragic accidents are so often reported on the news. And oh, how long the hours of the night seem when a mother is up worrying about her teenager’s choices or waiting for him to get home safely from a late date. And despite her best efforts, every child will still go through heartache or suffering.
Over the course of her life, a mother spends countless hours washing dishes and clothes that never stay clean for long. They purchase cart load after cart load of food and make thousands of meals (about a third of which are met with less than stellar approval). They cleans toilets they didn’t dirty, mops up dirt they didn’t track in and live with the constant guilt that they still arn’t doing enough.
As I stood by my daughter’s hospital bed last July and watched her labor and deliver my beautiful baby grandson, I was reminded again of the chain that turns daughters into mothers. Tears ran down her cheeks, first from the pain and effort it took to deliver her son and then from the joy and trepidation of the responsibility she and her husband would now carry in raising that precious little child.
We children, whether adult or kids, need to take the time to celebrate Motherhood in general and specifically the Mothers in our lives. We need to give them gifts and take them out to dinner. We cannot forgot the efforts they made to bring us into the world and/or cared for and raised us through those trying adolescent years.
Okay, so I know that Mother’s day gifts are often cheesy. But sometimes, just the effort to think beyond oneself, if only for a few minutes, is an important experience for a child. One year my son bought me a bottle of French perfume from the dollar store that smelled like really strong moon-shine. I dumped the liquid out, and filled the bottle with water and blue food coloring. (My son never knew the difference when I dabbed a little on my wrist and told him how much I liked it.)
Our children learn to honor us as they watch us honor our own mother and my mother-in –law in May and through out the whole year. Not because either woman needs gifts, or because they have any doubt of our love for them. But because we need to do it, and our children need to see us do it.
Life is too short not to take every opportunity to show our love for our parents and to in turn accept the honor and love of our children. So Mom, I love you, but you’re just gonna have to deal with it!