Spring and summer bring so many opportunities for celebration: Graduation, Easter, Passover….and this weekend, Mother’s Day. Did you know that over 46 countries currently celebrate Mother’s Day — though not all on the second Sunday in May? The origins of the day actually, according to history, go back to ancient times when the true essence was a celebration and honoring of the Mother goddess acknowledged by the celebrating culture.
I’m not writing to applaud or denounce any one way to celebrate this Spring moment. Instead, I want to share the importance of this day to me. As someone who struggles with and openly denounces Valentine’s Day, as well as other now merchandised holidays, it surprises many to know that I embrace Mother’s Day. I have always embraced it, even before I was a mom, even when it was a struggle to figure out appropriate ways to honor the women in my life. I do not expect, nor do I really know what to do with gifts on Mother’s Day; instead I would much rather bond with my girlfriends over mimosas and laughter and introduce my teenage children to the bond of friendship than receive a bouquet of flowers. That said, I will be taking myself and my children out to brunch tomorrow, but it’s to celebrate the family that has come to be with the humbling and joyous arrival of each of my children instead of their celebration of me. It’s an opportunity for us to stop and be conscious of one another and the bond that has been created over time and with love, frustration, laughter and a spectrum of emotion.
A lot of emotional and mental awareness goes into Mother’s Day for me. I spent most of this week being grateful for the other women who have been in my life and the lives of my children. The Vienna Mamas who have made meals, provided hugs, scolded accordingly, check in on my children when I couldn’t and support me. The teachers who have filled in for those life moments that happen during and after school when parents are not present but are none the less important for children. The friends and sisters and grandparents who have been a part of the support network that helps my children now and will be there in the future.
During this weekend I think about the dads who raise children without a traditional mother, the gay parents who fill the role of mother and father regardless of gender and for societies confusion do not always get the recognition they have earned. I think about the children who do not have a community of support and ache for their loss. I hold with great love in my heart all of the children who have allowed me the privilege of being a part of their community of maternal support.
For me, Mother’s Day has never been a day to “take a break” from the responsibility I agreed to and willingly took on (though I’m not saying that those moments have not occurred as a parent and are vital for family wellbeing when only moments in time), but a time to pause and think about what it means to be allowed to contribute to the nurturing of a future generation. When I say, “Happy Mother’s Day,” I mean no disrespect for those women who cannot or do not want to have children, but instead make an assumption that those women are still impacting the life of a child or children somewhere. I hope all who engage with children take time this weekend to reflect on the huge and impactful contribution you make to the present and future world we live in.
The African proverb states, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and Mother’s Day, for me, is just one more conscious opportunity to stop and give thanks to the villages that my children and I am a part of.