It’s Mother’s Day! I’m typing from my bed this morning with a cup of coffee on my bedside table. A teaspoon of guilt is here with me, but I’m nudging it aside to choose this classic Mother’s Day gift. When I had ideas stirring on writing today, they went in several different directions: the difficult and emotional side for those weighed down by loss or lack of motherhood, the delight of being a mother, and also the challenge of lousy mothers and the generational patterns that follow. Most of that doesn’t sound touchy-feely or smell like the floral bouquet of Mother’s Day, but life is rarely picture perfect. As I do with most of my writing here, I will simply ramble as the thoughts arise. This morning as I listen to the humming of my first-born as he sets the breakfast table, my thoughts begin with the gift of being a mother.
As a girl, I don’t recall being one that dreamt of being a mother or a homemaker. I was nervous when expecting my firstborn about all of the unknowns of motherhood and dealt with unimaginable anxiety for a significant chunk of his life. For most of that time, it was survival. In many ways, I owe so much to my son because he was a major motivation for me to keep going. With time and then the addition of my second child, I began to very deeply recognize what a true honor it is to be a mother. These two humans were gifted to me and as I personally grow and learn how to better live a value-driven life, they top the list. Although I fail regularly, I want to be a mother who is present, encouraging, and safe. I’m so thankful for the opportunity because being a mother makes me a better human.
My pastor recently told me he tries to stay away from too much of a focus on Mother’s Day because of all of the heartache that can accompany this day. In addition to the painful loss of a child or a mother, many times there are heartaches hidden deep inside the heart of women; miscarriages or abortions, for example. What if the relationship with your mother is strained or nonexistent? What if it feels impossible to buy just the right card because the dramatic written words aren’t even a little applicable to your relationship? It can be a uncomfortable holiday for many reasons and as I heard in a prayer recently, may there be grace woven into this day and what it means. May there be joy amidst the heartache and patience extended where it’s needed.
If you have a beautiful relationship with your mother, shout it from the mountaintop! Give them praise for loving you as they do and have done. If you have a troubling relationship with your mother or child, pause for reflection on lessons learned. If you feel grief and waves of sorrow, allow slow breaths to carry you through the sadness. I’m visualizing you having a deep, warm hug right now; the kind that feels cozy and doesn’t quickly pull away.
On my mind lately has been the generational patterns that loom with our parenting. I’ve heard people express their desire to do things better than their parents did and create a healthier environment, and for good reason! I think we should certainly be striving for healthy and growth in this area of raising children. I will also say that it’s important to beware of misaligned expectations and also of the reality of redirecting patterns that have been in place for some time. A generational pattern/sin/habit, i.e. alcohol use, bitterness, pride, anger, lust, can be much harder to break than it looks like. We have all learned and were molded by our circumstances and influences, so make space for grace and patience, if you find yourself with these struggles.
Lastly, I can’t help but think of my own mother, of course.I know that both of my parents had strong intentions of creating a better life for us than they had. Isn’t that the goal of all parents? My mother is brave and carries a take-charge attitude. I struggle with an anxiety disorder. My mother is charming and outgoing in most social settings. I have often been intimidated as hell with small talk. My mother is a go-getter and accomplishes her to-do list with ferocity and little downtime. I get easily distracted by who knows what when I should be sorting laundry. I say all of this to emphasize how different we are from one another. It must not be the easiest to parent a child who doesn’t follow suit. Once we moved through the teenage clashing phase and I became an adult, we developed a different mother-daughter relationship. Although she is incredibly compassionate, when I crashed and burned from anxiety and depression, she had to learn how to have a different kind of patience and compassion for someone struggling with a mental illness. I have seen small bits of thoughtfulness in her asking to help me or researching diagnoses online to learn more. She’s my mother and she loves me. With the death of my father a couple months ago, I am even more aware of the relationship with my mother. I am very thankful for her. I am very hopeful for even more closeness as we continue to age and as I raise these beautiful children of my own. Thank you, Mom. I love you.