I never had a “mother.” I have never called anyone that name. Ever.
This past week we had to face the real possibility of losing our mother in law and I watched in sadness as a good friend lost her mother. Why does it take death for us to really reflect on what a relationship meant to us and what we said and did … and didn’t?
How much empty space exists in the world right now, waiting to be filled with all the things we should have done but didn’t?
Do we put as much effort into our declarations of appreciation and love as we do into our complaining?
Mothers … I have never known where to put my heart on mother’s day. I wanted to be like all the other kids and give cards and handmade declarations of my devotion and appreciation but I was never afforded that opportunity. I have been uncomfortable with my own motherhood and worried that I was never enough, never worthy, doing it all wrong… motherhood was on a pedestal, so high, I probably never had a chance of reaching it. We romanticize the things we do not have. I romanticized motherhood and was not prepared for its reality. I don’t think I ever felt more incapable. I wasn’t worried about my reputation as much as I was about how much I love my children and how deserving they were of perfection. I wanted to be everything, for them.
I still don’t know where to put my heart.
I look to the “mothers” who have been in my life – my grandmother, mother in laws, other women I admire, my daughters . . . and I see women who all struggle to do the best they can, at the time, with what they have. When the time comes for their children to move on, women stand on the sidelines unsure as to where their place is after all the scraped knees are bandaged, tears dried, and lunches packed and eaten. They know they could have done better. They know they could have done more. Basically, they can only wait for invitations, and invitations are not always available when circumstances get complicated and time passes. Mother’s look for some meaning in their life to suggest that the love survived all that life has thrown at them.
Mother’s wince when people criticize their efforts. Can something someone else says ever cut deeper than the things they have already said to themselves? Can anything make you feel more inadequate than being responsible for someone’s else’s life? Mother’s don’t assume there is a place set for them at the table of their children’s homes, because we no longer live in a world where families matter as much as they once did, and often families are permutations of many shades of blending.
Grandparents are tossed aside, parents are disregarded. In a world that has made everything a popularity contest we have parents and whole families battling one another over children that once just simply used to be loved and part of both sides of their family. Even when the visits are scheduled and court ordered, hate has a way of preventing it happening. Today children are more like possessions and weapons. And mothers are just one of the casualties.
Loving your child, doing your best, are no longer enough. There are no guarantees that love overcomes family court or years of being apart.
So many mothers without their children on mother’s day. So many children now grown up, who don’t even know their own mothers If the two groups could talk would doors of understanding be opened?
Could I teach anyone with a mother, how it feels to never have had one?
Mother’s Day is about celebrating life, yours and hers. You cannot celebrate your mother if you have never known her, or made any effort to understand her. One of the things I have learned from life is that every human being has a story, and it is NOT the story that everyone else might tell you about who they are and what they have done. It is a powerful narrative of their own journey that is full of ups and downs. It is a story only she can tell. I have never failed to be inspired by the human spirit and what people survive, endure, and overcome. It is true about all of us but it is most true about our own mothers. Their stories are our stories. Even those mothers who by necessity are completely removed from our lives, have a story we need to know. We need to know because our stories are healing. They provide insight into where we have come from and who we are. We are not just suckled by our mothers at her breast. Whether they inspire our lives by repelling or attracting us, they are the reason we are who we are.
Because we live in a world that seeks to label things as “black” and “white,” or “good” and “bad” we apply those to our mothers when perhaps we need to consider we got from them exactly what was needed for us to be who we are today. Whether it was the absence of love or the gift of love, it moved us forward. It formed us. We eventually decided whether it would make us hard or soft. Whether we would be like her or totally different.
Some people are inspired by encouragement, others by pain.
Forgiving our mothers, is one of the most important things we will ever do. It acknowledges that she was not perfect. When we can accept that, we will come to the realization that we are not perfect and we can begin the process of forgiving ourselves. We can undo the knots and ties of debilitating belief that says it matters, as if there is a chart being kept of all the good things and all the bad things, and remember that there is only love. Love accepts things as they are, perfectly imperfect, fulfilling the measure of it’s creation. A three leaf clover is no less important than a four leaf clover, it lives its life just as effectively, being clover, doing what clover is supposed to do. We are not less because we have failings.
There shouldn’t have to be a single day that we focus on the people we love, but when we do set aside a day like this, we unite together in that celebration. Mother’s Day is about honouring life. All of us have life because of our Mother’s and so it is a circle of life that honours the human family. Let it be a day where we affirm our commitment to honour the sacred bond of mother and child. Let it be a day of healing.