Sunday, May 05, 2013

Rethinking Mother's Day

I am painfully conscious of the awkwardness of me writing this post, but, alas, that will not stop me.

It's about Mother's Day.

I have seen churches where it is a kind of competition, with the mothers standing up and prizes handed out to those with the most or the oldest or the youngest. This, understandably, has been criticized as cruel to the bereaved or barren.

Our current church, trying to be more mindful of the variety of human experience, recognizes *all* the women at once. I understand the sentiment, but I don't really see the point. Why call it Mother's Day, then? It's like having all citizens be recognized on Veteran's Day.

But I think both approaches misunderstand the holiday. (For one thing, why is this part of church? Isn't church supposed to be about, well, God? But that's another post.)

No, we're even missing the point of having Mother's Day. Did you know the woman who brought Mother's Day about as a recognized holiday, Anna Jarvis, did not have children? Mother's Day was never about claiming honor as a mother. It was about giving honor to our mothers.

Back in the day, as my grandmother taught me, everybody got a corsage on Mother's Day. Red if your mother was alive. White if she was dead--because loss is also universal. It wasn't about a status some people had achieved and other people hadn't. It was about being grateful for the tremendous gift of existence.

Not everyone gets to be a mother, but everyone had a mother. Someone's body nourished yours before you even knew you existed. Someone risked her life to give you yours, and will always bear the marks of it. Someone (maybe someone else) put food in your mouth when you still didn't know what your hands were, taught you to use food and the toilet. Maybe they did it badly, even cruelly, yet still they gave you the moon and the stars and that is something to be thankful for.

Perhaps if our focus on Mother's Day was outward, on gratitude and not status, we could better share it without slighting anyone.


Silvia said...

Do not take it as "I am so glad we have it right", judgmentally speaking, but truth be told, we have none of that nonsense (which comes from an understandable sentiment), where I attend.

Our services are not people oriented, but God oriented. Funny, you said mother's day was about honoring our mothers, we see Sunday as a day to honor our God, (at least several members and most specially, our elders, and I am most grateful for that, since I know whoever puts more weight on this type of celebration, would do so to their pleasing in private).

Another sort of confession, and again, do not take it as boasting or criticizing those who see this differently, please, I frankly do not care about MD. Today at church, discussing a possible date with calendar in hand, a young mom reminded me, oh, next Sunday is mothers day... which brings me to my present way of seeing this. I am currently blessed to have my mil visiting, she is like a mother to me. It has been such a vacation for me to have her cook, serve tea, clean, everything a mom usually does alone, what a wonderful time, I am showered beyond measure... the same from my husband and family. I DO NOT WISH FOR NOTHING (well, ahem, -in a whisper- one more book). Another confession, the one I coveted for the past days I ordered today, so HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY TO ME, I guess! ha!

And if dh puts the girls to draw me a postcard or somethin', that'd be the icing on the cake of life.

BTW, I just finished The Mind of the Maker, and enjoyed thoroughly the last chapter. It has become my motto, not to see life as a set of problems and solutions... how right on the spot. Now my dear friend got me two of her mysteries for 20 cents, Whose Body? and At the Teeth of Evidence, and I started the former and sort of like it... but I cannot make up my mind. Since I am reading DOROTHY SAYERS, I kind of not dare to let my own criteria loose. I feel I HAVE to like all AO books, and Whose Body is in the list for year 10. (Don't ask me how I know this, I STUDY that list, gulp).

Queen of Carrots said...

It took a while for me to come to like Lord Peter. Give him a chance. And at least two mysteries. :-)

Silvia said...

OK. I will listen to you. Something that caught me from the first page, is that metaphor that he seemed to grow from his hat as naturally as maggots from Gorgonzola. Also, Gaudy Night I am a Sherlock Holmes die heart when it comes to mysteries. Actually, this is the book I ordered, Sherlock Holmes and the Needle's Eye: The World's Greatest Detective Tackles the Bible's Ultimate Mysteries. I know it is not by C. Doyle, but I think a skillful fan in an Old Testament setting (not because of the "christian connotations", but because of the historical appeal), can do a satisfying sequel.

You'll hear more from me.

Good night and happy mothers day for what is worth!

Silvia said...

... I meant that the title Gaudy Night, and what she talks about in The Mind... sounds appealing, but I guess it will take just a bit to immerse into his world and become familiar with his character.

Diary of an Autodidact said...

I have The Mind of the Maker on my list. I am rather partial to Lord Peter, but I got started by reading Murder Must Advertise, which is really quite clever.

I'll stay out of the Mothers' Day wars for now. And I'll probably forget Fathers' Day like I usually do...

Carrie said...

I agree.

I dislike celebrating MD in the church because it's always overdone and puts the focus in places it's not called to go. Drives me nuts. I have been known to skip church on MD in past church we have been a part of because, I figured, if it's all about me anyway then I might as well stay home and do something all by myself. I enjoyed that more. (I'm grateful that we're not in such a church at the moment.)

As a general rule, I never pay attention to Mother's Day at all. Except one year I discovered that annoyed a great many people so now I acknowledge other mothers but do not require acknowledgment for myself. In fact, mostly please don't!

Rachelle said...

This was the first year that I really loved the holiday. It started when a stranger wished me a Happy Mother's Day as my three kids and I struggled through the Detroit airport with all our baggage together. His wish made me feel rather accomplished that they hadn't sat down on the floor crying but were still pulling suitcases and moving on.

And the next day, my children had such joy honoring me. One gave me several handmade cards throughout the day. Her joy...her desire to show her love was amazing.