Today is Mother’s Day. Well, at least it is here in the U.S. In the early 1900′s Anna Jarvis began a campaign for all Americans to take a day out of their busy lives to stop and celebrate their mothers. It began as a memorial for her own mother and a celebration of her life. From there, it has grown into a nationally recognized holiday and one that has taken root in numerous other countries as well. While it is true that the celebration of motherhood has been taking place for centuries, it wasn’t until this time that a specific day was set aside for the recognition of those that bore us all.
There are many reasons to celebrate a holiday such as this and the beauty of it is that every person has a unique set of reasons. There are no two people on earth that have the same relationship or history with their mothers. Even those born as twins or other multiples, have unique experiences throughout their lives that give them personal ups and downs leading to their individual relationships. Regardless of your current relationship state with your mother, today is a day to reflect on how she has helped to influence your life and shape who you are today.
The relationship that we have with our mothers is a curious one. For us men, she is our first love. Not in some creepy Oedipal way, but she is how we first learn to relate to women and harmonize with the opposite sex. It is in our relationship with her that we begin to define what it is that we appreciate and dislike about women. In her love we find compassion and caring. In her admonitions we find guilt and sadness. For most of us, there are few things that push our buttons more and affect our emotions more than our mothers. Even if we are in a heated argument and cannot stand to look at her, and I’m sure we have all been there, there is a knowledge or at least a presumption that her love is still under all that frustration. It is unfortunate that we don’t often recognize this until we ourselves become parents but it is there.
For the women, well, I have no idea what the heck is going on in your heads. The mother-daughter relationships that I have witnessed in my life have all been a mish-mash of love, hate, anger, jealousy, giddiness, caring and complete perplexity. It has always seemed from my perspective that the relationship they share is one of the mother wanting desperately for the daughter to grow up better than she. While at the same time, the daughter seeking to do her best to grow up to be as good as she sees her mom being. All in all, they both seem to be seeking the same thing. For some reason they just can’t seem to see that themselves. Yet another reason that I may never fully understand women.
Our mothers often seem to have a very determined goal for us in their heads. Sure they want us to be happy and healthy, but I think there is often much more than that going on too. Even before we have career plans for ourselves, they have been watching us and seeing what we are good at. They are plotting and planning to give us the opportunities to shine and showcase our talents whether we wanted to or not. When I think back on all the things that my mother pushed me to do, I see her now as nurturing my strengths and building my weaknesses. Back then, well, she was just being pushy and making me do things that I had not intention of doing.
My mother and I have not always seen eye to eye. I have challenged her patience and love on a number of occasions and yet she has always risen above my stunts. As an adult, there are things that we are forced to simply agree to disagree and yet I know that she still holds a deep love and respect for me. Even when she thinks I’m off my rocker. I know that she does not agree with all of my life choices, but she knows that they are mine and that I still love her too. Even when I know she’s wrong.
Despite our differences, she has raised me to be a strong independent man. She has helped me to learn how to love deeply, work hard and be honest with myself. In honor of her and all that she has done to shape my life, I wanted to share some of the things that I am thankful for on this day. This list is by no means complete and is in no order of chronological or emotional importance. It is simply my thoughts on how blessed I am to have been raised by such a woman.
On this mother’s day I am thankful for you:
- Birthing me
- Clothing me for many years
- Changing hundreds maybe thousands of diapers
- Loving me unconditionally
- Allowing me to explore even when you felt it wasn’t safe
- Speaking your mind when you felt you needed to
- Cleaning up the mess after I decided to eat all the spare change on the counter and puke it back up an hour later
- Letting me help with the Christmas cookies every year
- Showing me that the cookies were only partly about the sugar intake and that they were also about family
- Teaching me the importance of learning how to cook for myself
- Teaching me the value of diversity and acceptance
- Expanding my horizons
- Staying up late to call me out on being stupid
- Never allowing my laziness to be my best
- Not going completely postal when you found me bleeding profusely after wrestling with my brother
- Grounding me when I didn’t show up for dinner
- And for letting me off so much sooner than either of my siblings would have gotten
- Providing me with siblings that love me even when I was a whiny brat (no doubt they probably still think that at times)
- The carefree nature that you inspire in my children
- Giving me the opportunity to learn life skills
- Taking us camping and exposing us to nature
- Providing me with a solid educational background
- Giving me a strong spiritual footing
- Taking me to work with you and teaching me at a young age the importance of a work ethic
- For the life lessons learned in joy
- For the life lessons learned in pain
- Threatening me with military school
- And for not following through on that threat
- Always striving to do your best
- Always giving me just enough rope to hang myself by
- Encouraging my independance and self sufficiency
- Teaching me your values and allowing me to develop my own
- Not knowing or at least not letting on that you know about most of the stupid stuff I did when I was young
- Not beating me senseless over the stupid things you did know about
- At least trying to understand even when you couldn’t agree with my choices
- Bringing people into my life that challenged me to be better
- Being a wonderful grandmother
- Being uniquely you
There are a myriad of other things that I could thank you for, Mom. You have always been a powerful supporter of mine, even if it was behind the curtain. With out your love and encouragement, I would not be the man that I am today. Despite all the ups and downs in my life and our relationship, I have no regrets. Every moment of our lives has helped to shape who I am. My life, my love, my family and my friendships have all been touched by your influence whether you now it or not. For that I thank you.
Not everyone has had the blessing of being raised by a loving mother. Some have lost their mothers too young, or not known them at all. Whether your mother is still with you on the physical plane or not, know that she is still with you in spirit. I have no doubt that there are some of you listening that are not in a good place with your mothers right now. For all of you, I hope that can find it in your highest good to think highly of your mother for at least this one day. She may or may not have been the best maternal figure. You may or may not have been the best child. But the emotional and physical bond is still there and will always be. Today is a day to reflect on who she was and who we are now because of her.