On a day intended to honor the women who raised us, I am left pondering the nature of it all. Does a day dedicated to a purpose limit the purpose to that day, rather than demand that we extend this purpose to everyday? Or, does it allow the purpose to be glorified without distraction?
For those who have a healthy relationship with their mothers, or at least one that involves civil interaction, I imagine it's both. Before you read with intent to defend, rather than intent to understand, allow me to elaborate.
As a child, we toggle between being the center of our universe and seeing our caregiver as such. For many, during the early years, mothers (or the person we identify as mother) might as well be God. What she says, goes! What she does is doctrine, unless she tells you to do as she says, not as she does. When we cry, our mothers comfort, When we smile, our mothers melt. When we yell, our mothers hurt.
As a man, I cannot truly know the feeling of motherhood from a first-person perspective, but I imagine it feels pretty close to a metaphysical connection to something greater than self. You see, as children we may have the internal struggle of determining who's most important, ourselves or our closest caregiver, but mothers do not. For them, their child takes center stage - for better or worse.
Make not mistake, there are all kinds of mothers in this world, all with varied lived experiences and interpretations of their respective roles. Mother's Day is often in favor of the mothers who "stuck around." Today, I'm encouragin all of us to consider all mothers. Those who raised their children woderfully, those who struggled, and perhaps took it out on their children, those who feel like failures, and those who left their children for reasons beyond our understanding.
For men, the closest thing to which we can relate to carrying a human within us, and giving it life by shoving it through a canal, is the kidney stone we put in a jar as a souvenir of the unspeakable pain we endured. That's only partly a joke; those things hurt! Though our role is integral in procreation, and we are capable of loving children unconditionally, there is no common ground from which we experience a mother's connection to her child. We were all literally a part of our mothers at some point in our existence. That's some deep stuff! Now, in my personal and professional opinion, fathers are equally important in a child's life. That discussion, however, is on hold for another day. Dads, you have your own day. Be patient.
Imagine going through such a process as carrying a child, birthing it, and later detaching from it. Also, consider what must be present to mistreat someone with whom you have such a deep connection. Clearly, there are forces beyond rational choice at work. Mental health issues are real, folks. However, if we can replace judgment with empathy, and try to understand, or at least accept, that each person lives with the choices he or she makes, regardless of our opinion, and that it's not up to us to judge or shame them, we may start to save ourselves from ... ourselves.
Mother's Day is a day for all mothers. And, since we live in a high-paced society where we forget to honor those we appreciate on a daily basis, let's all take the opportunity to let our mothers know how we feel about them. Let's acknowledge the vulnerability that is present when expressing feelings for anyone in our lives. Let's be kind to ourselves and to others, as our mothers likely taught us. This lesson was certainly one I remember from my mother.
To all mothers, especially mine, Thank You!