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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Some Reflections on Motherhood and Mothering, this Mother's Day

This is my first motherless Mother's Day. The first of many, if I'm fortunate enough to have a lot of years left as a mother myself.

Truth be told, my mom didn't have a lot of interest in what she called Hallmark Holidays, such as this one. So although it wasn't one we chose to make a big deal of during her life, it's still hard not to think of her, and all that mothering means when surrounded by everyone else's celebrations. I don't miss her more today, I just miss her.

In a recent conversation among friends, we discussed how sticky mother-daughter relationships can be. I imagine mother-son relationships can be tricky too, but there seems to be so much caught up in our relationships with our same sex parents. 

For their part, our mothers can want for us things we're not sure we want ourselves. The same style of parenting they expressed, if they felt it was right, or something really different, if they were discontent. For us to fulfill the dreams they couldn't, while avoiding the pitfalls that may have tripped them up. In my life it has been a challenge at times to know what was right for me, apart from what my mother felt was right.

For our part, we can forget that our mothers are people unto themselves, wholly separate from ourselves, with their own lives and paths to follow. When we were children, it was their responsibility to feed, cloth, and shelter us, to protect and love us unconditionally. Some of them were better at all of this than others, it's a big responsibility. Beyond that, they were/are still complete humans beings with their own wishes and dreams, some realized, some unfulfilled.

My mother did mothering full time for almost 40 years, since there are 18 years (and 2 sons)between me, the oldest, and my sister, the youngest. I wish I had had the opportunity to see her grow into the fullness that can come when intense, daily mothering is past. That was not to be. 

I am grateful, that in the last few years of her life, I was able to see her as more than just my mother. To recognize that she had her own destiny. To love her as a human being, sometimes struggling, sometimes thriving, without needing her to show up in any certain way that I perceived as how a mother should look. I wasn't perfect at this, but more and more I was able to just love her in her wholeness.

Today, on Mother's Day 2013, this is my wish for you:

If you've lost your mother, as I have, may you remember her with more love and joy, than grief and regret.

If you still have your mother, may you love and appreciate her for what she could and can give you, and respect her journey, sometimes along the same path as yours, but still uniquely her own.

And especially,If you are a mother yourself, maybe you embrace all the gifts of mothering from your own mother that fit into your own family, while simultaneously forging your own new trails into the areas that will nourish your family and your soul.

Happy Mother's Day