This Sunday will be Mother’s Day, which merits some mention, as it is a very special day. Like so many holidays, there can be a bittersweet quality to it. We’ve all had a mother, though some of us may no longer have a mother present with us. And particularly for someone young who has lost their mother, it can be an anguishing reminder of a loved one no longer here. And there are some women who want to be mothers, or wanted to be, and were unable to achieve it for whatever reason, and accepting that fate is a huge challenge for some women, and finding other ways to include children in their lives. And some may still be trying, and are agonizing, wondering if it will ever happen for them. And to complicate matters further, stories are legion about how difficult mother/child relations can be, particularly mother/daughter relations, which unfortunately can be a mine field. So although it seems like a benign, wonderful day, it can be a complicated holiday too. One can end up focusing on the mother one wishes one had, but never did.
I have been very blessed to have many children, 7 children I gave birth to, and 2 stepsons I love like my own sons, so Mother’s Day has always been a BIG deal for us. But even in the happiest, biggest families, there are aspects of Mother’s Day that can be challenging or painful. I lost one son when he was 19, and he is greatly missed on every day, every holiday, and Mother’s Day too. I have wonderful goofy photographs of his last Mother’s Day with us, when he was being silly (as he often was) and made us all laugh. I took a photograph of all the children, and he put on dark glasses and made funny faces. We had a wonderful day, and four months later he was gone, and is sorely missed on Mother’s Day every year. Our Mother’s Days were always wonderful when the kids were little and everyone was at home. I was decked out with macaroni necklaces until I could barely see over them, and Kleenex boxes they decorated for me, and pencil holders made out of soup cans that I still have on my desk today, and cherish. My office is full of the treasures my children made me, handprints and decorated plates, drawings, and jewelry boxes covered in glitter. My computer table is one my youngest son made me out of wood he painted when he was 8. They were such wonderful times, and everyone made a big effort to come home once they were in college. And eventually, life caught up to us all. Several of my children moved to other cities for their work. I stop in New York to celebrate an early Mother’s Day with two of my daughters every year, and another of my daughters who lives away flies to San Francisco for the weekend without fail. And my two youngest children always spend the day with me. Of the oldest ones, one comes home on some years, the others don’t. I’m grateful that they still come home for Christmas and Thanksgiving, so I can’t insist or complain about Mother’s Day. But it’s different when kids grow up. Lots of things are different then, and you have to adapt to grown up Mother’s Days, even though at first it was hard. I was so spoiled by having all my children with me for so many years, that the transition to their lives as adults is challenging at times.
My own Mother’s Days were very different when I was a child. I was alone with my father from the time I was six, with a mother who was only occasionally present in my life. Our relationship was distant, not always constant, and difficult later on. It made me the ever-present dedicated mother I am, but I never had a present hands-on mother myself. She was a very beautiful, very glamorous, very young woman, but her maternal instincts were never strong. So Mother’s Day was kind of a non-event for me, and not a happy day, and when she died a few years ago (still very beautiful, and fairly young), I found all the little things I had forgotten and made for her on mother’s days when I was a child, and sent to her when I didn’t see her. Needlepoint, and embroidered pin cushions and frames I had made diligently. I was very touched that she had kept them, so maybe her maternal instincts were stronger than she ever demonstrated or I realized. So I understand how challenging mother/ daughter relationships can be, and can leave you wanting what you’ll never have. We have to do the best we can with what we’ve got, and be grateful for what we do have, which can be challenging too.
Ideally, we have mothers we are close to, whom we love and who love us, and children who are nearby, close and present in our lives forever. And if not, sometimes we are fortunate enough to have older women in our lives who nurture us, or wonderful grandmothers, and young people in our lives even if we don’t have children of our own. Mother’s Day can be what you make of it….I wish you a happy, joyful one, whether you are with your own children, or with a friend’s children, or God children (I have an adorable 3 year old God daughter in Paris, and several grown ones in Europe and the States, whom I love), or just young people you enjoy, and may the day be kind and warm for you. Happy Mother’s Day!!!