“Why Mother’s Day Month?” they ask.
As May rolls around now days, I do it without thinking. I find small ways to honor my mother - mostly through words. I do it without thinking about the why, but when she asked me to write about the story behind it, it made me pause and think to myself, “Why do I do this?”
So, as I nursed my own daughter in the middle of last night, I contemplated the why behind it all. I do most of my “thinking” during these late-night nursing sessions these days…it’s quiet, dark, calm and my thoughts have a chance to be my own, rather than my daughter’s, my husband’s, or the tutoring kiddo I sat with that evening. In a way, it’s my time to have my brain for a few moments.
I was hoping I’d have some big revelation…oh, it all started when _______ happened or I do it because ______. That didn’t happen. Does it ever go the way we anticipate? I’m learning more and more these days that it doesn’t.
I realized this Mother’s Day Month business goes deep. It goes back to the days when it was Mama, Nick and myself in our little house…just us three. Back to when I begged her to let me shave my legs, would call her at work to tattle-tell on my older brother and when I didn’t stop to tell her 'thank you’ for the work she does as our mama. It just didn’t cross my mind to tell her thank you for rubbing my feet every night or for stepping outside to watch me walk to my best friend’s house…every.single.time….until I was like fifteen?! Kidding…but only a little. Mothering was her job - we were her work. I didn’t realize she had a choice every morning to do it well or to not. Mama’s mothering was my normal…today, I realize it may not be the norm for most.
How many women that become moms at fifteen do you know that choose to mother with intentionality and integrity every day? How’d she grow to be so wise at such a young age? I don’t have answers for these this morning and that’s not why we’re here, but it’s worth pondering…
Anyway, at some point, I realized I needed to love my mom well. I could be one of the people to stop and affirm her work. Gratefully, our little home expanded from just us three to five kids and one spectacular father who does love my mama well. From him, I learned the importance of really ‘seeing’ her work and letting her know what I see. It was through ‘My Mark’s’ eyes that showed me a different view of my mother.
I grow more and more like her as I age (thanks be to God!), but when I was younger, we were very different…she’s loud, enthusiastic, appreciates acknowledgement… Me? Not so much. I disowned her as my mother when she threw a surprise party for me on my eighth birthday, slammed my door if she came home and said, “I’ve got a surprise for you…but I can’t tell you about until ____.” , and cried when she’d praise me at a soccer game. I sound like an evil child - I’m not, I promise - I just want you to get the picture that I’m a sensitive, introvert…she’s not. Finally, we’ve figured that out about each other…we’ve figured out how to love each other well.
There lies the answer to the question of, “Why Mother’s Day Month?” Somewhere along the journey I read a snippet of a story that said, “…at the end of the day, I want to know if I’ve loved well.” It made me rethink how I love the people around me and how can I show them the bigness, the depth, and the breadth of my love for them. I’m not good at big ta-da’s or publicly announcing my love for people, but I was determined to let my people know I love them in a way that’s comfortable to me, yet meaningful to them.
Words. Words are gift from God that I’ve explored over the years. I find peace and comfort in journalling, writing stories, and mailing hand-written cards. I’ve also found that my people can see my love for them through my words. So, it began with writing and Dove chocolate. I think the first gift I left for mom was a piece of Dove chocolate on top of her coffee and a small hand-written note with it.
Over the years it has morphed into weekly gifts and words that go public on Facebook. Each year we both receive private messages about how our mother-daughter relationship inspires others to love their mamas well or to at least consider working on a broken relationship in their lives. So, for now, I continue…I continue to pray each morning during the month of May for eyes to see the small (yet so big) things in my mother that she deserves to be acknowledged and appreciated for…the words continue to come and I continue to write them…and y’all they continue to ripple into the lives of other mamas. I really do think Mother’s Day Month has morphed into something that’s not so much about my mama anymore…it’s more about every other mama around the world. It’s about stopping to show women that God sees them and the work they’re doing…to tell them they are worthy of praise and acknowledgement in this role of giving yourself completely to other human beings…it’s about pausing to say you are seen, known and valued…every single one of you moms out there.
So, while the affirmations may be specific to my mother, they’re truly about all mamas and the work we all do day in and day out. One day isn’t enough…one month really isn’t either, but it’s what I have to give. So, I do it.