Mother’s Day is complicated. At least it is for me.
I’ve celebrated it in sundry ways.
There were many years when I celebrated my own dear mother.
I suppose words of affirmation are my love language because I wrote a lot of notes and letters to express my devotion. Often there was a handwritten note to the woman I considered to be the very best, and I was thankful she was my mom. I told her so, setting words to the page on Mother’s Day.
In 1983, my mother died. My grief seemed unbearable. Mother’s Day that year filled me with deepest sorrow and loneliness. I no longer had a mother to celebrate. It changed the day forever. And it changed me.
There were the years when my son was young and learning what it meant to celebrate his mother.
It was a Sunday evening of Mother’s Day, and this little lad of mine wanted to “take me out” to MacDonald’s® for an ice cream cone. You see, there was a give-away of free cones to any mother who came, and it was what my son could afford.
I was weary and worn. Problems don’t take a holiday, and I didn’t really want to go. My mother took my aside me and helped me understand that this was important to my son. This was his gift and I needed to receive it.
So I drove the two of us the few miles to the fast food restaurant, and we enjoyed the taste of cold sweetness together. It is a memory I hold dear.
When that one sweet boy grew tall and whiskered, there was that one year he let me know I was to be a mother-in-law. I was so excited and felt like I had been to a big reveal party where someone proclaimed, “It’s a girl!” The one daughter-in-love became another reason to celebrate being a mother in a completely new and different way.
There were the years when I should have been holding another baby on Mother’s Day, but I was not. Two miscarriages in two different years left me bereft. I saw other young women cuddling babies in blankets, full of life and happiness. It was hard. I clung to my one small boy, thankful for the gift he was to me.
There were years I worked myself silly on Mother’s Day.
I was a Mom and a Grammy. I invited my family – son, daughter-in-love, three grandchildren, dad, and step-mother – and cooked up a storm. I wanted them here, not spread out at a restaurant that would be overly crowded with families trying to bless their mothers, waiting for us to give up our table.
This was my way of celebrating. And it was a blessing to me. Nothing is sweeter than having the house burst with noise as dear ones come through the door, They spread out through the rooms, then we wound our way in a circle before the meal, holding hands for a prayer of grace and thanksgiving. We gathered at the table, and this was sharing life together. The laughter, the stories, the children in dress up clothes, the making of memories were worth every bit of effort.
When the youngest grandchild and the only boy was quite young, I planned for him to sit next to me. He was the non-stop talker, and I was especially patient with this little guy who had my heart.
I recall those years fondly and would do it all again in a heartbeat.
And now I am in a different season. Our family dynamics have changed. Time, death and life stages have altered the holiday. Family units evolve; they cannot stay the same.
So the second Sunday in May is complicated for me. I know I am not the only one.
In the way of the Lord’s giving and taking away, I recognize the blessing of others who entered my life as changes were dramatic. Older women became my mentors after my mother’s death. Friends of all ages have loved me, touched my heart on any given day. My life is full and rich in relationships.
Though it may be complicated, we should celebrate. Mothers are a breed of their own. Their hearts demonstrate God’s own love in a way no other can. They are tireless, loyal, selfless, committed to their children, and will never, ever stop loving them, even when they are the prodigal.
Where would I be without the godly influence of my mother who loved me without conditions? What other experience can be likened to being mother to a son and then getting to love his wife? And who can even describe the joy of being a grandmother? It is compensation for growing older and a do-over for parents who become wiser with the years.
Mothers are grand, they are amazing, they are something so special, no way around it. Celebrate them. Give them their due reward and praise.
No matter how complicated Mother’s Day is, it marks a day to cherish the women who shaped us and loved us, who influenced us and guided us, who shine as heroes and warriors.
I’m thankful for my own precious mother, for the experience of being a mother and grandmother, and for women who have enriched my life in ways I can never fully express.
Happy Mother’s Day to them all.