What does Mother’s Day look like for you? For some of us, this is the first Mother’s Day to be a Mother and that is exhilarating, and maybe even a little exhausting after a short night with the baby’s feedings. For some, the days leading up to this weekend are painful—maybe we are unable to have children, so we only hold in our hearts the child we so yearn to hold in our arms. For some of us the weekend is exciting and full of celebration—children coming home or taking Mom out to dinner. For some of us, the weekend is a time of fear that hits hard because of our Mother’s recent diagnosis. For some, we just realized it’s Mother’s Day and are wondering if the store has any cards left. Some of us have made a special card or gift for our moms and can’t wait to present our token of love to her. For some of us, it is a day of great laughter and fun and for some of us, this is the first Mother’s Day since our Mother’s death.
For others, this time of year is about just being together and celebrating family. For some of us the only way we are “together” is through the internet and we yearn for more “real life” times of togetherness. For some of us, Mother’s Day is another work day. For some of us, it is a reminder of the ache in our heart we feel as a Mother because of the death of our precious, beautiful child. For some of us, Mother’s Day as a single Mom doesn’t look much different than any other day. For some, the emphasis on mothering is a reminder that our Mom was not there for us—maybe we are still waiting for our Mother’s approval, or maybe our Mother watched us being abused, never able to stand up for us, and we are deeply hurt by her silence. Maybe we are in a current struggle of communication with our Mom. Maybe we are celebrating the beauty of the value of the relationship and what we have learned from our Mothers—often our first teachers about life and laundry and love and Legos and laughter and lots of other lessons. Maybe we are in tears because our son just presented us with our first dandelion bouquet.
Oh, what a beautiful thing, that first dandelion bouquet. The simple, heart-felt gesture of an innocent child with the idea of an extravagant gift for Mom. The child brings all that he has to give in that moment. An allergy-inducing invasive weed to most, but a gorgeous offering of love and relationship in the eyes of the mother.
One of the reasons Mother’s Day is so wide in the array of experiences is because whether it’s mother/daughter, mother/son, or mother/father, these are all relationships, and relationships can be messy. Because of the reality of the imperfections in our relating, we are often hurt or we hurt others. Even in a relationship that is often idealized there can be very difficult and very trying times.
Deborah Tannen, a professor of linguistics specializing in sociolinguistics in her book, You’re Wearing That?, Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation, says “Words exchanged between [young] daughters and mothers – in the moment or in memory – can carry enormous weight. The same is true for conversations between mothers and grown daughters, even though both are women and in many ways speak the same language – indeed, partly because both are women and in many ways speak the same language: a language in which intimacy and closeness as well as power and distance are constantly negotiated. Improving communication between mothers and daughters, much like breaking down barriers to communication between women and men, requires, above all, understanding: seeing the situation from the other’s point of view.” I recommend the book as a catalyst for discovering the value of the words in the mother/daughter relationship. Even if you do not have a daughter, you have a mother and this book promotes deeper reflection and understanding of a significant relationship.
May our celebration this Mother’s Day be in the small steps that we take towards our mothers and children, our fellow human beings. May it be in the working to improve our communication, the extending and accepting of dandelion bouquets.