“Everybody wants to save the Earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes.”
Ah, Mother’s Day. This is a day whose roots can be traced to the ancient Greeks and Romans who honored the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele with festivals and celebrations. Hmmm… mother Goddesses, you say?
Our modern day Mother’s Day, however, is more closely related to the early European Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday” when people would return once a year to their ‘mother church’, a practice that over the years introduced children giving gifts to their mothers.
When my four children were in elementary school, I would look forward to the hand-made cards and crafty gifts made in school. With great anticipation, they would show up hiding their ‘present’ behind their backs and with big smiles on their faces as they wished me a Happy Mother’s Day and proudly gave me their special gifts. As they grew older, these were replaced with sentimental store-bought cards, lengthy telephone calls and beautiful flower arrangements. Although the gifts may have changed, their thoughtfulness continues to bring up the same feelings that the crooked clay cups and colorfully-painted Popsicle stick picture frames brought so many years ago… feelings of being loved and appreciated, and being proud of the young adults my children have become.
Over the past 26 years of being a mother, I have often admitted to not being a perfect mom. I’ve said my share of things that would have been better off not being said, of reacting instead of understanding, of missing opportunities to just ‘be’ with my children. But as Jill Churchill said, “There’s no way to be a perfect mother and million ways to be a good one” and I’ve also stayed up all night supporting them through a life crisis, taught them to be resilient and true to who they are, and respected their opinions even when they differed from my own.
While I would do some things differently if I could do it again with the things I know now, I know that I did the best I could. I also know my mom (and dad) were not perfect parents but did their best.
About five years ago, I shared some stories with my mom about how I felt growing up within our family. These were not happy memories. In return, she shared a secret. She told me that she didn’t realize how important it was to hug your children and tell them that you loved them until she saw me doing these things with my own children and witnessed the closeness it created. She told me she didn’t know how to have meaningful conversations with me or how to reach out when she saw me in pain because she never experienced anyone doing this things for her when she was a child. In that one conversation, both our perspectives changed and our relationship profoundly changed.
My mom and I now share a more meaningful relationship and we see a wisdom in each other that we were once closed to. We both have a greater understanding and acceptance of our experiences and of ourselves. We respect the perfect imperfection of who we are. This amazing gift only happened because we shared our stories.
As mothers and as human beings, we are not perfect. We have had achievements and failures. We have proud moments and ones we would like to forget. We have laughed and we have cried. By sharing our stories, we can create deeper connections to others and to ourselves. We inspire. We heal. We understand. We support. We love. And isn’t that what being a mom is all about?
Women Talk celebrates all mothers with a special Mother-Daughter open mic meeting. Come out with your mother or daughter and share your story. It is a story we are all waiting to share in with you.
“Being a mother is an attitude, not a biological relation.” ~ Robert A. Heinlein
Written by Darlis Collinge