Gratitude and Grace: a Reflection on Mother’s Day
[I started this post a year ago. It’s time to finish it.]
My relationship with Mother’s Day is complicated.
Four years ago, I sat weeping at the back of church when Fr. Tony asked all the women to stand for a Mother’s Day blessing.
I didn’t believe I would ever be a mom.
I didn’t even hear that he tried to be inclusive and said something like, “Would all mothers and aunts and teachers and women who mother in all ways please stand.” As soon as I heard “Would all mothers,” I felt profoundly excluded from the club I wanted so badly to join.
Five months later, I got pregnant.
So now I get Mother’s Day cards and my husband makes brunch for me and why shouldn’t we spend one out of 365 days honoring mamas for their sacrifices and hard work and unconditional love?
I spent most of my youth (maybe we all do?) fully underappreciating my mom. She was my mom–of course it was her job to make my lunches and wash my clothing and she was so mean not to make me pancakes every time I asked for them and to expect me to contribute to the family by loading the dishwasher and other chores.
[Sorry, Mom. And thanks for carrying all the worry that I did not totally understand until I, too, stood in the middle of the night with a hand on my sleeping baby’s body, holding my own breath until I could feel hers.]
On Mother’s Days I gave my mom a chintzy stuffed bear with a pillow embroidered with “Mom” that I bought at the mall, and little perennial calendars with mother quotes, and other gifts that she still has. Because I gave them to her. Because she’s my Mom and I meant every word of every Mother’s Day card I ever gave her (which she probably still has, too).
But Mother’s Day still makes me cringe a little. For all the women who struggle with infertility, who want desperately to be mamas. For all the women who do not have children for their own deeply personal reasons, and who nurture and sacrifice and unconditionally love the children in their lives.
I have been blessed to have other mother-figures in my life, women guides who have helped me grow into the woman and mother I am: my beloved teachers and coach, my first teaching mentor. These women are not legally mothers, but they have mothered me. They deserve to be included.
But “Happy Women Guides and Mentors Day” doesn’t fit neatly on a Hallmark card. It also doesn’t have a nice acronym.
I am so grateful for the gift of motherhood. I don’t wish to minimize the unique experiences that being a mom involves.
I just don’t want other women to sit at the back feeling left out. Grace belongs to all of us who nurture: all the aunts and big sisters and older cousins and family friends and teachers and neighbors and coaches. All of us who hold each other’s hands as we struggle and cry and triumph and laugh at ourselves. All of us who look at younger versions of ourselves and say, “You can do it. It gets better. You are enough.”
Maybe it can be Women as Role Models Day: Happy WARM Day! (Though that would turn Father’s Day into MARM Day…acronyms were never my strong suit.)
To my Mom, Nana, Grandma, aunts, and other mother figures: thank you for showing me what strong, independent, caring, sacrificing women look like. To those who currently and those who will mother my own children, thank you for being part of the village.