May 9, 2008

A Mothering Day

My mother has been deceased for nearly five years. Mother's Day for me is no longer a time of visits, gifts, cards, or flowers. It is a time a reflection, remembrance, celebration, and affirmation.
It's a mothering day.

This weekend in May is a time to open memory boxes, read old letters again, look at old photographs, and recall lessons learned. It's a time to cry. It's a time to smile.

My mother and I led very different lives and this created a real challenge of understanding and empathy. Eventually, this breach was filled and as she approached the end of her time here, our relationship resembled the early years of my life: a time when I relied upon her to explain the world to me.

Earlier this week, I told my daughter one of the jobs of a good mother (or parent) is to tell and teach a child things they need to know, but can't independently perceive or understand. Sometimes, the transmission of that knowledge is difficult or painful and creates a "bounceback effect" because such knowledge is not wanted or fully appreciated. I wonder if only the passage of time creates the perspective which allows acceptance of lessons offered.

Ironically, I have done many of the things my mother wanted to do, but was unable to achieve: complete college degrees, work in a profession I love, live independently, travel, publish, etc. She encouraged me in all of these pursuits and cheered me on in her quiet way.

Thankfully, as the years passed, we found each other again. In her final years, she was a quadriplegic, living with the paralyzing effects of multiple sclerosis. Still, we sat side-by-side as we had decades earlier: talking, telling funny stories, crying, making each other angry, praying together...all of the things two people who love each other share.

This Mother's Day, I will create some memories with my daughter and recall the life of my mother, the woman who quietly and persistently shaped in me in ways I am still discovering, appreciating, and understanding. It will be a mothering day.

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