May 7, 2010

Mother’s Day, Motherisms & Sub Ins

Mother’s Day is Sunday. It’s the Hallmark-official day when we are required to celebrate our mothers. In theory it’s nice. It says, “On this special day in May, make sure you tell Mom how great she is.” Okay we can live with that… but in reality; it doesn’t fit into such a neat little box… 

If you are a person who has a strained relationship with your mother, then Mother’s Day is not exactly your favorite time of the year. Truth is, not everyone has the Mrs. Brady mother type. You don’t have to get a license or pass a test to procreate, therefore, some people, who aren’t quite suited for the job, end up becoming mothers. So for those people, the day is awkward, forced and fake. You participate because you feel obligated.

If you are person who lost your mother, (especially if it’s recent) then Mother’s Day is painful. You don’t want to be reminded that you are without a Mother to celebrate.

If you are a person who has been trying to conceive a child, but have been unsuccessful, then Mother’s Day can be sad. It acts as a reminder that you will not be included on this exclusive festivity. On the other hand, if you were not trying to conceive child, but whoops, you did… then Mother’s Day is not exactly a second Christmas for you either.

If you’re a person who considers your mother one of your nearest and dearest, then she has grown into the “friend” category as you have grown into your 20’s. If you identify with this, then you don’t really need one day to “thank” mom, because you’ve probably done that hundreds of times throughout the year.

So why then have we continued this tradition? Is it just something that people feel pressured into participating in?

I think we participate because no matter what your gender, sex, race, religion, heritage, political viewpoints, social associations or any other category we use to define ourselves—at some point, we have all had a mom. In some form or fashion, despite her idiosyncrasies, her constant reminding (nagging), her ability to so graciously force her views or share her wisdom, we love her.

Even if she’s not Mrs. Brady and you don’t have the “friend” relationship you accept her on some level because “She’s my mom.” You shrug, what else can you say? This answer seems to explain almost all of the complex relationships that float around Mother’s Day.

If you’re reading this and you’re someone who has lost your mother, then I am going to force my own mother’s advice on you… Celebrate your “stand-in” mom or moms.

My mom lost her own mother over 17 years ago. She still says that she misses her every day. (If you have had a good relationship with your own mother, I don’t think that longing ever goes away). My mom says that she uses Mother’s day to thank the older women in her life who have lent her an ear, or given her advice, or forced their wisdom on her in a time when she didn’t think she needed to hear it. You see, NO ONE can compete with your own mother, but sometimes there are people placed in our lives by the heavens, who fill the voids of others we have lost. So use this Mother’s Day to recognize the other women in your life who have subbed in.

Finally, if you’re like me—still have your mom AND have a great relationship with her, then you should consider yourself VERY LUCKY!! Even though you may talk to her often, you should make sure to recognize her on this official Hallmark day anyway. Mostly in part, because over the years I think we have all taken for granted the “mommy-esk” things that she has done for us.

When we were kids they stayed up with us when we got sick and they let us climb into their beds when we had bad dreams. Even if they wanted to go to the gym or get extra sleep they allowed us to be their priority. They let us stay home when we faked being sick. Sometimes our mother's even called out of work themselves and stayed home with us in their pajamas. (in my house it was dubbed International Pajama Day, actually a much-needed mental health day that only my mom seemed to notice that we needed.)

Our Mom's reassured us of how smart, beautiful, capable and nice we are. They are our biggest fans and the loudest in our cheering section of life. They held our hand when we needed them to and as we grew up and became independent, they let us go when we needed them to. Over the years they have packed us lunches, our overnight and summer camp bags. They have helped us pack up our rooms when we moved out or onto college and if it didn’t work out; they have even helped us unpack when we move back in…

So, despite our own feelings, I guess we don’t really appreciate the changes that our mother’s go through until we’re in our 20something years. We don’t realize that we should use this Sunday, in May, to celebrate our Mother’s because they brought us into this world. They allowed us to come in and change their whole lives. They sacrificed some of their youthful hopes and dreams for our better good. They made many choices because they thought about themselves, but they also made numerous ones because they thought about our needs, our welfare and us.

Moms have traditionally been referred to as “the heart of the home.” The people who’s responsibility it is to teach their children about love, acceptance, kindness, forgiveness and tolerance. Not any easy task. It’s not a 9-5 job and it is something that is taught by example. They don’t have the opportunity to retire from work, throw on some sweat pants and kick back for the rest of the night. Instead, they have to be always ready, 24/7 to practice what they preach. You would think they would complain about this more, but somehow, as babies and small children, we weaseled our way into their hearts, so they do it because they love us… unconditionally. (Lucky for us!)


Don’t let the Hallmark-holiday, pressure exclude you… No matter what your situation, you should thank your mom, in person, on the phone or through prayer that she decided to bring you onto the planet.

If you don’t have a mom, thank your sub, or stand in. If you do have a mom, suck it up and honor all of her work. Let them enjoy their special day; they deserve it for dealing with us all 364 other days of the year.


"The language of the heart allows us intimacy... It is the conveyance of the most tender, most delicate of emotions. And if one is lucky enough, that language is learned at a mother's knee...”~ Maya Angelou