Saturday, May 7, 2016

Sometimes Hallmark Lies - Mother's Day Edition

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. Hallmark and the media would have you believe that all mothers  and grandmothers everywhere would love to have breakfast in bed, lunch at a nice little tearoom with dessert of chocolate-covered strawberries, a lovely card with a bouquet of flowers, and finally dinner at a fancy restaurant to top off the day before a relaxing over a cup of tea just before bedtime. Nice fantasy, I suppose, if there is a woman who can consume all those calories in one day and still fit into her jeans!

Enter the only obstacle to the aforementioned fantasy: the actual family! Any mom with littles probably does not wish for breakfast in bed. Oh, the idea is nice enough, but we've all seen the cute videos where the kid spills a glass of milk, or a bowl of fruit, or all of the syrup onto the hall carpet...several times while shouting, "Happy Mother's Day, Mommy!" Now, I am not saying that Mommy doesn't appreciate the thought...however, I know that for this to be an effective gift that she can enjoy without worry, there must be a responsible adult (Dad, this is you) following that kid around with towels, stain remover, laundry basket and steam cleaner! If that's the route you want to take, have at it! Oh, and don't forget that you have to go see Grandma, too...if you want this to be the most perfect Hallmark Mother's Day ever...

Now, for the elephant in the room: What if you don't have a mom? Or what if you have a difficult relationship with your mom? Or what if you have desperately wanted to become a mother, but that possibility may not ever be a reality for you? What does Mother's Day look like in these situations, Hallmark? Well, there's the "I Love You Like a Mother" card, I suppose, for the woman or women in your life who have been mother-figures. There is also the stick-your-head-in-the-sand approach, doing your best to ignore every single commercial for the last month, and trying not to notice moms everywhere, being honored in a way that you cannot honor your own mom.

I know a young woman who lost her mother to cancer when she was 16. It was rough. I was there. Yet I cannot imagine her grief. She learned how to drive without her mom. She got married without her mom. She bought and decorated her first house without her mom. Someday she will have her children, and her mom will not be there to be the best grandma ever (and trust me, she would have been just that). Mother's Day is painful for her, but she does her best to remember the best about her mom. A few months ago, I met with this young woman on her mother's birthday, and she brought me flowers. They were lovely, and she explained that she bought this specific flower every year on this day, just one of the ways she remembers her mom with a smile. This is a very strong young woman. Her mom would be so proud.

I know another woman who was never able to have children, although it was one of her deepest desires. Instead of focusing on what she could not have, she chose a career working with children, and in her heart she adopted each one. Those kids, some from quite desperate situations, had motherly love in some very hard times, and I know they still remember this lovely teacher's aide into their adulthood. She was their teacher, encourager and biggest cheerleader at a time when the system had already started to write them off. Their future success will be attributed, at least in part, to the love of a woman who poured her motherly love into them, even without the benefit of a blood relationship.

I know a man who has a strained relationship with his mother. Having grown children of his own, he has often looked back on his childhood years and wondered why his own mother had children. If you asked her, I am sure her answer would be something like, "That's just what we did then." So she had children who grew into adults with few happy, childhood memories that revolved around their mom. Even as adults, this man and his siblings struggle with their relationship with their mother. Still, every mother's day, he visits and makes sure that his mom knows that he loves her. It is not all hearts and flowers, and she is still difficult to love at times, but he is making up for love lost in his childhood by forgiving and honoring his mother now.

Finally, this year, I know three young men who lost their mother quite recently. I imagine this weekend will be difficult for them, and they are in my prayers. There are many milestones for them to get through this year, their own birthdays, holidays, and of course tomorrow. Zach, Parker and Sam, I know that your mother loved you, and that she was intensely proud of you. I know that she would want nothing more in this world than your happiness. As you approach the day tomorrow, as well as the coming months and years without your mother, I hope that you will think of her often and with great love and fondness. And, although I am well aware that I am not your mother, and that I could never fill her shoes, I hope that you will remember that I am here for you. I love you guys.

To all of you who are moms, grandmas and great grandmas, Happy Mother's Day tomorrow. I hope that your day comes with a little extra time and attention from your children and extended family.

To those of you who are not moms, and to those of you missing your mom, I hope that your day is good anyway. Even though she may not be here with you, I am sure that your mom would wish you the same, wherever she is.

As for me, it is likely that I will be knitting this Mother's Day, just like most other days. I'll be spending some time with my mom and mother-in-law today, and I look forward to that, too. But at the end of the day, while I count my blessings, I'll also be counting stitches. After all, the girls keep growing, and new sweaters will not knit themselves!

Thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Health!

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