Some Thoughts This Mother’s Day

Some contemplations for my fellow mothers:

This weekend is Mother’s Day. It has been celebrated on the second Sunday in May—in this country, at least—since 1914, when Anna Jarvis succeeded in establishing the holiday in honor of her own mother, a peace activist. Following the Civil War, Ann Reeves Jarvis (Anna Jarvis’s mother,) and suffragette Julia Ward Howe had tried to establish a Mother’s Day holiday as a day dedicated to peace. It took almost half a century for the day to finally be established, and only after the deaths of the two women whose idea it had been in the first place.

But then, by the early 1920’s Anna Jarvis—like a lot of people—had already grown wary of the “Hallmark-ization” of the holiday she had so staunchly promoted.

Reality is Always More Complicated than Holiday Cards Imply

I bring up this bit of background, because while it is an interesting bit of trivia (the holiday was co-conceived by the woman who wrote “The Battle Hymn of the Republic, a.k.a. “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!”) the basic instincts behind Mother’s Day are not as uncomplicated as one might suppose. And that’s appropriate, because we Mothers are not as uncomplicated as one might suppose, either.

Motherhood is complicated.

Families are complicated.

I mean, life is complicated!

Flexibility Makes Complications Easier to Navigate

As time goes on, we start to realize that being a mother is a messy jumble of fulfilments, achievements, and regrets. (Ideally, more of the first two items and less of the third.) None of us has been a perfect mother; but then again, our kids are not perfect kids, nor are our parenting partners perfect either. Yet aren’t we too-often unconsciously comparing our parenting personas with some unattainable idea of being perfect? Aren’t we always aware of those vague cultural whispers that insist we follow each and every “should”?

If nothing else, the past year has taught us how to be flexible. So maybe we can, at long last, learn to love who we are instead of fighting it by focusing on our flaws. I don’t mean we should surrender to our worst attributes and impulses, but we can aspire to be our best selves without being ashamed of our short-comings. We can accept ourselves, blemishes and all, as long as we work at being our best selves.

Doing Our Best While Giving Ourselves a Break

What do I mean by working at being our best selves?

Sometimes that might mean us rising to the level of spectacular. Sometimes that might mean us just barely getting through the day. It means we might sink, we might swim, we might soar. But if we can honestly step through each day with as much authenticity we can muster… as much clarity as we can be brave enough to face… as much gratitude as our hearts can endure moment-by-moment… then we can prompt all the love we might wish for. From our families and from ourselves.

Now wouldn’t that be a great Mother’s Day gift?

(And for all this talk this Mothers Day of needing to be flexible, responsive, and self-forgiving for mothers… well, next month—come Father’s Day—one might take this blog post and exchange the word father for mother, and what do you know? Most of the above-stated still applies!)