Most of us have a mother or had a mother. Some of us are mothers, want to be mothers, can't be mothers or choose not to be mothers.
It's not all as simple as Hallmark would have you believe. Sometimes there is a warm and loving relationship, but from the ones I know about, I wouldn't say they are simple. This perhaps most profound relationship of our lives is usually rich, complex, and sometimes even mucky. And sadly, sometimes there is no real relationship there.
We have such high expectations for mothers; for who our mothers should be, for what they should be able to do for us, for how they should prepare us for the world. And if we are mothers, we have such high expectations for ourselves. We think, or at least I think, "I'll only do the good things my mother did, not the bad. I'll do all the things I wished my mom had done, but didn't."
What a mixed bag. I wish my mother had lived long enough to be a grandmother to both of my children instead of dying when my son was 2 1/2. She loved those years as a grandmother, she had great joy and would have had total delight with her granddaughter who has so many of the same interests as my mother did.
I wish I could have asked my mom for advice, asked her what I was like when I was young, but mostly, I wish I could tell her that while it was easy to think that I'd only do good things for my kids, and none of the bad, that I now know how much it easier it is to think that as a teenager than to actually do it once you have kids.
I write and talk about my mom a lot. I even have a friend who tells me he feels like he knew my mom, even though I met him after she died. My daughter recently told me she was comfortable with a friend talking about his father who died a while ago because she was so used to "being with the living dead" from me talking about her grandmother. I smile when I hear such comments, knowing I'm doing well at the Ethical Culture approach to immortality.
The role of mothers has changed over the centuries, and the way women are viewed in society has changed. Women are not anyone's property, and now have the right to vote. That happened in 1920, the year my mother was born.
These days, it looks like there are people who want to reverse so many of the changes that so many people fought for. Many of the changes focus around women and motherhood. Some people think women shouldn't have the right to make decisions about their own bodies. I'm shaking my head as I write this - I continue to have trouble accepting how some people just want to go backwards. We can’t let that happen. We need to keep moving forwards.
I can think of no better way for me to honor my mother on Mother's Day, than by making some extra efforts to work for social justice as she did. And that honors the origins of Mother’s Day as created by Julia Ward Howe.
What is Mother's Day like for you? What are your experiences around mother-hood? Please join us to discuss mothers and motherhood in our Community Call on MONDAY, May 7, 2012 at 5pm PT, 6p MT, 7pm CT, and 8pm ET. The number for the call is 866-740- 1260, access code5766842#. Invite your mother, or anyone else who might be interested in this call.