The images of Hallmark cards, hand made necklaces, tiny baby footprints, glittered macaroni and new seedlings in the damp earth tiny pudgy fingers pushed into ripped up egg cartons abound this weekend. It is in North America one of the most loaded "holidays" ever to be created. The history of the origins of Mother's Day are is captured by The History Channel:
"Celebrations of mothers and motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele, but the clearest modern precedent for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.” Once a major tradition in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, this celebration fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent and was originally seen as a time when the faithful would return to their “mother church”—the main church in the vicinity of their home—for a special service. Over time the Mothering Sunday tradition shifted into a more secular holiday, and children would present their mothers with flowers and other tokens of appreciation. This custom eventually faded in popularity before merging with the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s."
For many the holiday itself is loaded. It is loaded with emotions, memories, the lack of memories or emotions, with hurt, with regret, with confusion, with a sense of duty. Motherless women, loss Mamas, single Mothers, single Fathers, women unable to able conceive, adoptive Mothers, women whose own Mothers have never validated them, women who believe that no matter what, anyone other than them would be better for their children- struggle with this celebration. Women who, to the outside world seem to "have it all" struggle. Here's the rub- this day is relative to each person's experience of what "Mother" means.
To the brand new Mother, it may be a reminder of all that she should be. She may not know who she should be, how she should act, feel, believe or understand. To the woman who has recently lost her partner her "mothering" will be viewed through a new lens. Society and generational beliefs will set us all up to believe that we may not be "mother enough." Oh how we are. All of us.
I have been watching the robin outside my front window. She decided to build her nest this year in the small tree in my front garden, probably because the morning doves took over the nest inhabited by robins for the last six years in the eaves above my front door.
In the last six years the robins in the eaves scared the living daylight out of me as I left my house in the morning. They would squawk, poop and peck at the eaves and leave a terrible mess on my front porch. This year I was surprised that there was no mess, yet I heard bird talk on the porch. About a week ago I was met with a big inquisitive eye as I left the house. The dove, quiet as can be, watched me leave and I noticed she wriggled, side to side, presumably settling down deeper on her babies in the nest. "I hear you" I thought as I left. I wanted to not disturb her, so I began going in the garage door. I trusted she knew what she was doing and I didn't want to cause her any more stress. She was letting me know that she was not going anywhere. Her babies were right where they should be and she was keeping them safe.
This morning, the former "messy" robin sat just as firmly rooted in her nest. My vantage point from my window seat allowed me to watch her. The slightest movement, the slightest noise and she was ready to flee...and leave her babies unattended. If I didn't see her go in and out of her nest, her babies would have a better chance, I thought. Now I am by no means versed at all on the behaviours of birds, but to observe them following their instincts struck me. We too should be "allowed" to be like birds- messy if we want to be, noisy, leaving our shit everywhere, fiercely standing our ground, able to flee to protect ourselves and our babies and inattentive when it serves everyone best. We should be "allowed" to occupy a different space without judgement out of necessity or because we damn well want to-because we are to be trusted. People should go out of their way to make sure they don't interrupt our mothering-because we need to and should be allowed to trust our instincts. We need to be supported in feathering our nests and taking care of our babies- without adding stress to what already is a "loaded" existence. May this "mothering Sunday" be all that you want it, need it and hope for it to be. Take flight Mamas, in the knowledge that you are loved, appreciated and so very worthy. You are enough.