By Vicki A. Brady
Like some of you, I am approaching Mother’s Day this year with mixed emotions. My stepmother, who was as loved as a mother, and my friend, passed away two years ago. I miss her. I miss the phone calls, talking about nonsensical things like who got voted off Dancing With the Stars or of how well our Knock-Out roses are doing. I miss baking Christmas cookies together and telling her that she is going to be a great-grandmother again!
While Mother’s Day is intended to celebrate our mothers, grandmothers, and mother figures, it is also a reminder to many of loss. Death, infertility, abortion, custody battles, foster care, estrangement, rebellious children, and memories of abusive or absent mothers often overshadow the occasion. Friends and family members may hesitate to bring attention to the day, for fear of causing additional pain.
Years ago, I met an elderly couple who ran an unusual gift and candy store. I was surprised to see a sign, letting customers know that they would be open on Christmas Day. When I inquired, I was astonished at how quickly the elderly matriarch’s face changed. Her bright smile was replaced with hollow sadness as she offered a bitter explanation. Her daughter had been murdered over the holidays 20 years earlier, so she could not find anything to celebrate. Although she had several other living children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren, right or wrong, none dared to express joy or exchange gifts in her presence.
I think we can find a balance.
If you are struggling with finding joy in the approaching day, consider the following.
The fact that we are alive and breathing is a testament to a woman that sacrificed a part of her life to give life. While it may be difficult in some cases to honor the person, we can always honor her position. Be grateful and recognize her for what she did do and do not focus on where she failed. If you had a difficult childhood, purpose to do better with your children.
If you do not have your mother with you, or if you have lost children, look around. Is there a family in your area that you can honor with a card, lunch, flowers, a plant, or a special gift? No matter how dismal our lives seem to be, there is always someone out there with a greater struggle. By elevating them, you lift your spirits as well.
Call your loved ones. If they are no longer with you, journal your thoughts. Write them a letter that expresses how you feel or how they are missed. Although they will never read it, there is healing in saying the things that need to be said.
It takes courage to face our hurts and choose to live life to the fullest. Do not shut out people that care about you and want you to know how important you are to them. Embrace all of the love you can and use it to love others.
If you are as blessed as I am, to have a wonderful husband, children, and grandchildren that make everyday seem like Mother’s Day, enjoy it. Do not feel guilty or embarrassed by their attention. Do not rob them of their need to show affection because you feel sadness for those who are struggling.
Smile because you can! And if you need some incentive, go shopping, take yourself to lunch, the zoo, a spa, or to a movie. Take someone with you and watch them smile.
My mom’s voice is still on the home phone answering message. Sometimes I call dad, even when I know he is away, just to hear her say, “You have reached….I’m sorry we can’t come to the phone right now…”
Remember, Mother’s Day lasts for 24 hours, and then it is just another day. This year, make it the best that it can possibly be, for you and for others.