The problem with generic holidays like “Mother’s Day” is their tendency to obliterate the vast diversity of real life. Cards and advertisers want this day to be about chocolate, jewelry, and brunch. And there are lots of moms who adore that stuff.
But if we dig beneath the glossy surface, we find a reality far more beautiful than any advertisement could portray. In my own small world right now, I find these kinds of moms:
Moms who choose to nurture dogs, cats, and other critters with the same deep love as for all family. Moms whose kids are well-launched away from home, and navigate their new role as distant adviser with grace. Moms whose adult kids cannot seem to launch. Step-moms who invest their hearts in kids who don’t always know how to be grateful. Step-moms who are discovering there is nothing more delicious than playing with the kids in their new families. Moms of young children who haven’t slept in years. Moms of grown children who haven’t slept in years. Problematic moms who seem to push their kids away with one hand while pulling them close with the other. Moms who struggle with their own addictions, mental illness, physical illness, pain. Grieving moms whose kids are no longer on this planet. Battling moms whose kids are going through cancer. Moms who leave their families for military service. Moms who love their kids and their work with equal passion. Moms who are doing all this on their own, without partners. Moms who are doing this all with amazing partners. Generous, loving moms whose kids don’t always know how to be grateful. Generous, loving moms whose kids know precisely how lucky they are, and make sure to show it.
These are just a few of the moms I know. Add in the aunts, grandmothers, older sisters, and women friends who take on mothering roles and multiply all of the above by a power of ten. Or maybe one hundred.
No one size fits all. And, there’s nothing wrong with a holiday that invites us to pause and consider all the joyful, troublesome, tragic, confusing, heartfelt, loving dimensions of motherhood. Let’s do that.
Over brunch. With chocolate.