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.