Mother’s Day is a Hallmark holiday. Motherhood is a condition we never recover from.
Yes, I know the historical roots of how we got here — from ancient Greek goddesses and “Mothering Sunday” in the UK to Anna Jarvis and Julia Ward Howe, who campaigned for mothers around the world to lobby for world peace — women who sacrificed their sons in wartime knew that there had to be a better way to solve the world’s problems.
One way or another, it’s a day that forces us to confront our mothers. And think about our children.
When Jacques Florist delivery guy Craig left my spectacular Mother’s Day bouquet on my front porch Saturday morning, I began thinking in earnest of what this day means to me.
The enclosed card came from three of my four offspring and read, simply: “Though we can’t be here, these flowers should make it al little bit better. Thanks for showing us how to grow. We love and miss you!! hope to see you sooner than later. Bill, Jules and Neil.
“Thanks for showing us how to grow” was, of course, the line that got caught in my throat and made me cry. Sort of happy tears, but to be honest, it’s a mix of emotion at this stage. They are fully-fledged at 25, 28 and 40.
My oldest child, Aimée, has separated herself from the family, and that is a tough one. But I’m still her mom. And so it hits me, every year, that motherhood is a difficult place to dwell. There are many joyful memories I carry with me, and there are what feel like failures along the way. That’s just the reality of being a mom.
Becoming a mother is something women always consider at some phase of life. It is our birthright.
Once I entered that sacred place I did my best to protect and love my children. I taught them everything I could think of that would prepare them for life in this big world. In the animal kingdom, there are mothers that have various instinctive duties. Some, like orangutans and elephants, make sure their little ones are cared for until they are really ready for surviving on their own. Others, like rabbits and seals, do the bare minimum and then they get back to being whoever they were before the babies came along.
We humans do our best. But there are wildly differing degrees of success, and success is ultimately defined by our kids.
I’ve made peace with my own mother and our relationship. She is gone 15 years and, for all our ups and downs, there is nothing I wouldn’t give for one more day to tell her that I love her and that I know she did her best by me.
I’m at that phase in life where I hope my children understand that motherhood is a bit of a sacrifice. We women abandon some part of ourselves to be there for our children, putting their wellbeing and happiness before our own. It’s not something that stops when they leave the nest. Only when I became a mother did I understand my own mother’s struggles with her station in life as a mom.
But over time I have become philosophical about it all. I did the best I could, and I have plenty of regrets, but I can’t go back in time.
Tonight my husband and I decided to celebrate Mother’s Day with a date night. After all, without each other, there would be no children, and therefore, no Mother’s Day.
Our first stop was the liquor store. We picked up bourbon, vermouth and bitters, to recreate our favorite date-night indulgence, Giorgio’s Manhattans.
Then we stopped by Stark Brewing to fill our old-school growler with some hefeweizen and picked up a pizza. From there we stopped at Kelsen Brewing in Derry for another pizza and a four-pack of porter. Then we parked at the Derryfield and feasted on pizza and beer waiting for a spectacular sunset that didn’t quite materialize. Once home we shook up some Manhattans and listened to R&B.
If that doesn’t sound like a traditional Mother’s Day celebration, well, I guess it depends on how you break it down.
But from where I’m sitting right now, my kids are living their lives. All of them are amazing people. Whatever I contributed to that, I am grateful for the opportunity to have loved them and raise them and impart some of my own wisdom to them. And for whatever time I have left on this earth, I’m going to enjoy the ride.
Jim and I soul-search regularly. Parenting is on the back burner. We are contemplating the “end years” and wondering how to make the most of life as our careers wind down and our golden years become reality.
But being a mother has meant everything to me. Motherhood has made me who I am and, if I did anything right, it has made my children who they are – strong, independent, capable, loving, and generous.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you – to the moms out there with kids at home, be present knowing that this is a limited run; to those who, like me, have arrived on the other side of active duty, make peace with your kids. Love them for who they are and accept that for all your imperfection, you are loved and cherished – even if a little misunderstood. In the end, you did the best you could