I’m not a fan of most bank holidays–Columbus Day, Washington’s Birthday, the holidays that mean business doesn’t run as usual, but no need to fire up the grill. I also am not particularly fond of Valentine’s Day: highly commercialized, overpriced flowers, and unrealistic expectations. I like LOVE, just not Valentine’s Day. I have nothing against our first president, but his birthday doesn’t ring loud on my radar. Likewise, and I know I’m getting into some murky waters being that this is a MOM’S BLOG, but I really don’t like Mother’s Day.
I liked it a lot when I was younger. It meant that I got to pick out really cool presents for my mom, my dad would foot the bill, and I got to sign the card and get all the recognition. It meant that I could get all dressed up and do the Mother’s Day banquet at church and pose for a happy family picture, celebrating three generations with my grandmother, my aunts, my mom, and all of us littles planted around the oaks of our heritage.
But my mom passed away when I was 26, and I suddenly had to face some of the harder realities of life. There was a huge gap in our family portrait, and Mother’s Day wasn’t quite as celebratory. Almost overnight, I had a new empathy for women that wanted desperately to be mothers but couldn’t be, or women who had tumultuous relationships with their own moms. Women who wrestled with broken marriages or shattered hearts or unpaid bills as they clumsily tried to do it all alone. Moms that wanted desperately to be cradled themselves, rocked by arms much bigger than their own, and reminded that it would all be okay.
I thought that becoming a mother myself would fix my ache. That somehow my membership into this elite club would warrant a big party, and I could get so sloshed on praise and appreciation, that the hole in my heart would magically disappear.
But now that I’m part of the club, and I realize what motherhood really means, having one day in the middle of May marked to celebrate the work I do for the other 364 days in the year seems slightly anticlimactic.
This is not a post lamenting about how many diapers I change or boo boos I kiss. This is not about how my body has morphed into a functional baby provider, or how motherhood has confirmed what militants for centuries have known to be true: sleep deprivation is a form of torture, bringing even the strongest to their knees.
No, this is about something much different.
This is about the kaleidoscope of a mother’s brain, capable of feeling so many emotions simultaneously–fear, pride, worry, excitement, inadequacy, glee.
This is about being an advocate for the small and voiceless, a hero for the unequipped.
It’s about how much a mother can stretch her heart to love in the middle of madness, and to build a canopy of hope and protection in her home.
Motherhood means gentle strength and humble confidence, and letting your kids think you’re ten feet tall and bulletproof when some days all you want to do is curl up in a ball and cry.
It’s discovering the world a second time around through the eyes and experiences of your child.
It’s recognizing the smallness of yourself when contrasted with the bigness of your love.
So surely you can see how I think Mother’s Day seems to fall short. Don’t get me wrong, I think moms deserve a lot of thank yous and adequate time off. I think every month should have a built-in “Mother’s Day” where mom sleeps in and someone else does all the cooking-cleaning-dressing-working-fixing-balancing-wrestling.
But at the end of it all, after the crayon-covered cards are read, and the phone calls to mothers out-of-town are made, when the kitchen is destroyed from the meal they tried to make you, and your freshly painted toenails are drying (because who doesn’t want a pedicure from a seven-year old???) know that the real gift is motherhood itself.
It’s being part of the world’s population, of preserving civilization. Of birthing and building humans, and empowering them to bring everything they’ve got to the table.
This great gift of motherhood is as if women from the beginning of time have whispered in your ear, “you got this.”
What does Mother’s Day mean to you?