The older I get, the more I can’t help but notice how difficult some of our annual celebrations can be. Although these days are earmarked as special days honoring something specific, they inevitably end up feeling exclusive. Holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day seem to ring this bell the loudest and most clearly for me, the sound amplified by social media.
Today is Mother’s Day, and ‘should’ be a happy day. It’s a designated time to remember and appreciate your mother, to make a call or plan dinner with her, or to enjoy your own role of being a mother.
It’s all great, right?
Unfortunately, I can’t help but think of those who have lost their mothers. Or, who were never able to have children. Or who are adopted and might feel a wince of pain on this day. Or, God forbid, have experienced the loss of a child. For so many, a day like today most likely brings with it multiple emotions that make getting through the day less than Hallmark-perfect. While I feel grateful that I am able to have dinner tonight with Marge and I either spoke to or texted with my children, I have been struggling all day to find soothing words to share with those who are finding today difficult, for whatever reason.
Would we be better off without these kinds of holidays? I’m not sure.
I did come to one realization however that I wanted to share with you. What I realized today is that I wish I could change the name of Mother’s Day to Motherly Day. It’s much more fitting I think, because one does not need to have birthed a child to have loving, maternal, protective tendencies. My thoughts immediate go out to my girlfriends, and how motherly they have been toward me at different times of my life. My friend Leigh from college who helped me find my path in life. My local friends here in Massachusetts, each one instrumental in helping me grow as a person. My sister-in-laws who have treated me with the tenderness and protectiveness extended to a cherished younger sister. From co-workers to customers to teachers who had my children in their classroom in elementary school, I have been blessed to have so many motherly people in my life.
Being motherly is instinctual, and stems from the distinct desire to want to see others flourish and grow. It has nothing to do with gender, nor does it have to do with a shared gene pool. It’s about seeing value in others and believing that you have something worthy to give to someone else, such as your time and your attention. It’s about being a listener and remembering to check back in on someone. Tiny little gestures that can make someone feel loved, and feel important.
Today I am going to celebrate Motherly Day, and want to send out love and appreciation to everyone who has taken someone under their wing and acted in a motherly way. I hope that those who are feeling lost or alone today are able to find solace in the fact that each of us can choose to act in motherly ways every single day. It’s amazing how much an empty feeling can be softened by the overwhelming warmth that comes from actively offering love and protection to someone else.
Finally, I want to thank each of you who has been motherly toward me. You know who you are. I hope each of you has a smile on your face right now as you read this. You have impacted me in such a significant way, and for that, I am forever grateful.