Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers, grandmothers, aunts, stepmothers, pet moms and all who nurture, guide and protect the young – including single or stay-at-home dads who do traditional ‘mom’ duty.
This was my mother’s favorite holiday. If you took Christmas, her birthday and St. Patrick’s Day (she was VERY into being Irish) and rolled them all together, I’m not sure they would have equalled Mother’s Day for her. As she was dying, I asked her, “Mama, what was the happiest part of your life?” She replied: “Oh, that’s so easy – when you kids were little.”
Then I asked, “What was the hardest time of your life?” For a woman who had been ill nearly all her adult life, had several miscarriages and a stillbirth, had endured not only the death of her parents but of several of her siblings including 2 younger ones, I felt there were lots of contenders for this dubious honor. However, she replied “The day your youngest sister left home, for then my hands-on mothering ended.”
Like all humans, my mom was not a saint. Just like you and me she had her human foibles. I told her, that last weekend I saw her alive that she had been a perfect mother. She, very typically, replied “Oh, Diane, don’t be ridiculous – that’s not true.”
But whatever their human foibles – and even with moms who truly were ‘bad’ moms – the archetypal role of “mother” looms large.
Some of us are blessed to have more than one mama. Perhaps a stepmother, as I have (my Dad remarried when I was about 50, so Gloria wasn’t a hands-on ‘mother’ stepmother, but a beloved stepmother none the less). Perhaps you were adopted and have both a mom and a ‘birth mom’. Maybe you were raised in a multi-generational family in which your grandmother, aunt or big sister helped raise you. Maybe your mom is gay and partnered and so you have two moms. And maybe your mom works or is gone and your Dad is doing a lot of the mothering tasks as well as traditional dad tasks.
A caveat here: I am not a mother myself. So I can’t speak at all about what it’s like to be a mom. But as a daughter, sister, aunt, and friend – I have watched a lot of moms in action and I think the cliché is actually 100% true – it seems to me that parenting is both the most important and hardest job in the world. Goodness knows I have enough problems trying to ‘raise’ two kittens into reasonable cats!
I hope that all of you moms, stepmoms, birth moms, dads-acting-as-moms, grandmas – all of you who love, nurture, guide, protect and raise children – have a wonderful day. That you feel loved, appreciated and happy that you have children in your life.
And for every sentient human, may you be grateful today for your own mother, for the archetypal Mother energy (Mary, Quan Yin, Durga, et al), for the nurturing and love you have received – from your mom or anyone who made a big difference in your life as a child.
And for “The World’s Tallest Elf” (my mother’s endearing name for herself), for my beloved Grandma Scholten, and for my Dad, who, due to my mother’s illnesses did a lot of ‘mom-like’ parenting as well: Thank you. No gifts, cards, flowers or thank yous will suffice – so instead I’ll do my best to pay it forward, being kind to children now as a thank you for all you did for me.
Happy Mother’s Day, all!