I’ve celebrated three Mother’s Days as a mom. Every year, my joy grows deeper and sweeter. My children are learning to be independent and more communicative every day. Seeing them grow into their own beings and express themselves makes my heart swell with pride. It’s bittersweet. Both of my little ones are now officially toddlers - I don’t have any babies anymore. The soulful boy who made me a mama is starting preschool in the fall! Where has the time gone? Have I already spent three Mother’s Days with my children? And how many more will I spend with both of them in my home?
Our neighbors on both sides are elderly couples with kids and grandkids of their own. In fact, Norm and Coleen have a total of TWENTY-FOUR grandchildren! Over the last week, I’ve seen their children pull up to their house, gifts in hands, to celebrate Coleen. Wendy and Frank were visited by a handsome couple bearing a large orange hanging planter. Seeing these grown adults take time out of their day to be together as a family warms my heart. It gives me hope. One day, my own kids might do the same for me!
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Unfortunately, I live two states away from my own mom. The hours between us keep us apart more often than I’d like. I feel guilty that my kids are growing up without consistently seeing and visiting their own grandma. When I was a kid, my parents made sure each major holiday was a celebration with (at least) one side of our extended family. Now? Our closest relations live just over an hour away. Even getting together on a weekend feels like an insurmountable task!
Maybe that’s just me trying to assuage my own guilt about not spending Mother’s Day with my mom. Even though I can’t be in her physical presence today, I am full of gratitude to her. She did her best to raise me with compassion and gentleness in an otherwise harsh world. Because of her mothering, I am able to be the mother that I am today. No - she’s not perfect. She doesn’t need to be perfect for me to love her.
This is the grace of Mother’s Day. It’s not “Perfect Mother’s Day”; there is no competition and it’s not a showcase event. Many of us have deep trauma related to our mothers, motherhood, or Mother’s Day itself - the day isn’t necessarily a joyful celebration for everyone.
Mother’s Day is not only a day for moms - it’s a day for each of us to show gratitude to the many people who provide mothering in our lives. Moms teach us grace, compassion, love, and strength. If anyone has imparted those lessons to you - if they have invested their time and energy into you - if they have built you up and nurtured you - if they have walked through your hardest moments with you - they are mothering you.
I’ve always felt the ultimate goal of parenting is to raise children into adults who don’t need you - but who desire your guidance first when they need help. My whole mothering life, I’ve been thinking about Mother’s Day as a time for my children to return home to me. A time for me to enjoy the fruits of my own mothering labors. Then I remember: I didn’t birth these children for my own pleasure.
As my kids leave my skirts and go out into the world by themselves, I realize more and more that my goal as a parent is to raise resilient children. They will need to not only continuously replenish their own reserves of grace and goodwill, but they must also be ready to pour that same energy into others. Mothering done well creates people who feel whole and love others. It creates humans who, in turn, become mothers in their own right.
May our children become the adults we dream they will be and may mothering them make us each better for so doing!