I probably greeted about 200 mothers at work today. I talked to each of my 4 children on the telephone, and left e-mail and voice mail messages for my own mother. Mother’s Day was sunny and bright and happy, or at least seemed to be, here in the Midwest. The local grocery store ran a sale, as did most businesses, and featured a picture of a mother and daughter in 1950s style matching dresses, matching pearls and matching smiles on their outdoor sign. How American. How stereotypical. How misleading.
Every mother-child relationship is unique. We use the term “mother” for convenience, like we do any other word, and run the risk of that symbol replacing the concept of an actual individual living out a particular life in a particular way. This is where we have to be vigilant and intentional in order to keep from assuming a role instead of forming a relationship. My mother is not a cookie cut-out on an assembly line. Neither am I. Nor are my children. I want us to know each other as real people, in the present tense. We have histories together that span our lifetimes, but we are always evolving. I don’t want to get stuck in old habits, old emotions, old psychological baggage. I want to keep a vital, dynamic exchange going with these people whom I so dearly love. That takes effort. Distance complicates it. It takes dedicated time, too. I am humbled by the idea of loving my mother and loving my children. I want to have more than the sentimental attachment or the Hallmark moment once a year. I desire more and they deserve more. I guess this is another way that “convenience” and ease can lull us into accepting a substitute. Just send the card, the flowers, the e-mail. Say the words, do the brunch, go through the motions. Done. Off the hook for another year. Nope, not good enough; not to me. I want to slow down, appreciate, be present, be real. I want to know and be known. I want intimacy. It’s actually a scary venture, so I’ll only try that with a few people in my life. I think my mother and my children qualify. So, my darlings, I’ll keep trying to overcome the distances. You are very important to me.
In a way typical to our family, I celebrated Mother’s Day by postponing it til next week when Mother has invited us to another “clan bask”. I will hold your thoughts on intimacy, appreciation and slowing down with me while I am there and invoke your presence around the table. I also celebrated the day in another Priscilla way (and my way too) — I spent the day with my camera hiking around China Camp State Park and the evening processing my photos. (I am so backlogged with posting them, you probably won’t see them for another 6 months). The big surprise was that my son called me from his vacation in Korea. Talk about overcoming the distances!
Way to go, Gu! Mmm…the hike with your camera sounds delicious. Looking forward to tasting samples!
An excellent post Scilla. My mum and my children and I don’t really do the commercial “mother’s day” feeling that it is just a commercial enterprise… probably makes me a kill joy! I agree that building and re-building the relationship all the time is most important..
I’m all for killing commercial joy…and building organic joy!