First, Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there. And a big shout out to my own mother, even though she is no longer with us.
If you haven’t called your mother, I urge you do give her a call, no matter your relationship, and wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. Why? Mostly because without her, you probably wouldn’t be here, and you are here for a reason.
That reason might be hidden to you. That reason might not have a lot to do with YOU at all. But here you are, making the best out of the life with which you were blessed. Some of you are more successful than others, but I’ve also learned that life is what you make of it. Your very attitude can determine what kind of day, week, or month you have. No one promised it would be easy, but if you look at each challenge in life as a chance to grow, and each failure as a chance to learn, you would be amazed where you’ll go.
But I digress, where was I?
Ah yes, Mother’s Day.
Why is it important?
This day gave us all a chance to honor our mothers and was first celebrated back in 1908 when Anna Jarvis held a memorial service for her mother in West Virginia. After a hard-fought campaign to make Mother’s Day an official holiday, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as a day to recognize and honor our mothers. Well, America being America, the day quickly devolved into the commercialized card, flower, and chocolate extravaganza we know today.
Now, I’m not dissing the corporations for doing what corporations do, but I think my mom appreciated the little things more than the cards (that would eventually get thrown out), the flowers (they die sooner or later), and chocolates (Mom was diabetic). After my mom moved closer to me, I would get the obligatory Mother’s Day card, but instead of flowers and chocolates, First Reader and I took her to a nice restaurant and spent time with her. That was her day, we tried to do what Mom wanted to do—which was generally limited to a late lunch / early dinner and chatting for a while.
I know that not all mothers are shining examples of motherhood. But here’s a little secret for you. Raising kids is hard. A task made more difficult by the social stigma surrounding hands-on dads, but we’ll talk about fathers next month. Today is Mother’s Day, and we’re honoring mothers here.
Being a mom myself, I know that I would rather spend time with my children, talking about their hopes and dreams, their careers, their kids. I want to know them, I want to be there for them, and I want them to know how exceedingly proud I am of the people they’ve become, despite my shortcomings as a parent when they were very young.
Without going into detail, I left because at the time I worried about their well-being. That was the hardest choice I’ve ever made. My temper back then was practically out of control, so I did what I thought best and traded the bleak future I saw for all of us for one that allowed my kids to grow into remarkable people. That’s not to say it was all roses and sunshine because it wasn’t—not by a long shot. But we survived with our relationship whole, albeit tarnished. I would like to say that my decision way back then was all about them, and it was, but to a small degree, my choice was selfish, but aren’t all choices in the end?
Motherhood is something that most of us feel our way through. Our offspring don’t come with owner’s manuals, and frequently our own parents are not capable, or, as in my case, available to teach and help us be better mothers. Our partners are supposed to be that—partners in all things that involve the family. In that, I was less fortunate. My “partner” at the time as all about “you’re the mother, they are your job.” I don’t remember getting any breaks from the kids, just all kids all the time. I began speaking in baby talk. I had a breakdown, and it was all over. I walked away from a negligent relationship and moved on with life. I always let the kids know how much I loved them and kept them close to my heart despite the distance between us.
Motherhood isn’t easy. It comes with a range of emotions we don’t get until we have children of our own. I understood my mother better after Eldest Kid was born. I don’t know how many times, in spite of promising myself I’d never say it, I’ve told my kids “because I said so, that’s why.” I detested when my mom would say that, but now I understand why she did. I didn’t have the life experience to understand the real reasons I needed to do something. She was trying to protect me, and I get that now.
Here’s an idea for Mother’s Day. Give mom a break by taking on all the tasks around the house for a day, or better yet, do it for the entire weekend. Cook, clean the house, wash and fold the laundry, then put it all away. Send her to a Day Spa for a massage, a facial, a day of self-care. Take her to that restaurant she’s always been wanting to try. Make her Queen for a Day.
Now, that is the ultimate Mother’s Day gift for your wife or mother.