Records indicate that more phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than on any other day of the year. What is it about this day that stirs up so much emotion? Every living person on the planet either had or has a mother. The relationship each of us has with our mother can have lasting effects on who we are and who we become. Many people have spent a great deal of time in therapy resulting from the relationship they had with their mothers. Often, we perceive our mothers through the lens of our own perceptions and experiences, and as in most relationships, there are both positive and negative elements.
Celebrating mothers and motherhood is an ancient custom that dates back to the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans. The modern-day observance of Mother’s Day in the US began in the early 20th century when a woman by the name of Anna Jarvis first conceived of the idea following the death of her own mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, and then created a day to honor mothers for the sacrifices they make for their children. Anna rallied to have Mother’s Day recognized as a permanent legal holiday, arguing that most American holidays were biased toward male achievements. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson formally established the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Over time, Jarvis grew upset about the commercialization of Mother’s Day and actually spent the rest of her life trying to have the “holiday” removed from the calendar! She obviously lost that battle.
Recently, I had the chance to spend a Sunday afternoon with one of my daughters. We went to one of my favorite places, Barnes & Noble (B&N). B&N has free Wi-Fi, a Starbucks and, of course, many books. I needed something new to read and my daughter suggested a book that she said both she and her brother loved, “Gilead” by Marilynne Robinson. Gilead is a small town in Iowa; the story is narrated by the town pastor, named James Ames, who believes he is facing imminent death due to a diagnosis of angina. He decides to write a letter to his 7-year-old son about his life, beliefs, loves and losses. The book inspired me to write this article—a universal letter from mothers to their children on Mother’s Day.
Dear Son/Daughter, I am writing you this letter in order to share with you my experience and feelings about being your mother. I remember how happy I was when I heard that I was pregnant with you. For nine months I endured nausea, swollen feet, weight gain, heartburn and a myriad of other ailments. I celebrated your accomplishments even before you were born; every time you hiccupped or moved inside of me, I was thrilled. After many hours of labor, you finally arrived—our much anticipated and wanted child. I cannot describe to you how I felt the first time I saw your face and I held you in my arms. I brought you home and you slept in my room. Actually, you were mainly awake in my room; you cried so much and slept so little, I had no idea what to do. I sought out friends, relatives—anyone that had a baby or had once been a baby; I was desperate for you to sleep so I could get some much-needed sleep.
Fast forward—you eventually did sleep through the night, you reached all the normal developmental milestones, went to school, made friends, graduated and moved out of the house. I look back at those years when you lived at home, and I remember the noise, the laughter, the studying, and the occasional and sometimes not so occasional fighting. Sometimes I wish I had been the kind of mom that they show on TV. The one who never loses her cool, and stands up for her child when there is trouble in school. She is a great listener and always has the right answers. I have always been impressed with the television mothers who make a big breakfast before everyone leaves the house. When you were young, dry cereal and milk was the gourmet breakfast that you learned to serve yourself. I am not that perfect mother; I am human and I have made many parenting mistakes. There are times I wish I could go back in time, with the knowledge that I have now accumulated, and re-parent—I would like a do-over. But since that is not going to happen, you are stuck with your flawed mother, so if on occasion I don’t say the “right thing,” let me off the hook. Know that I love you—I loved you before you were you. I will be there for you and support you even if I don’t always agree with you. You and I have this special bond; thank you for being my child and making me a mom. Happy Mother’s Day to both of us.
As a postscript, let me end this article with some healthful hints for Mother’s Day. There is a tradition to bring Mom breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. This year, forget the bagel (it is not mandatory!) and make her a Greek Yogurt parfait with oatmeal and berries. If she is not a yogurt lover, try an egg omelet loaded with veggies. Don’t forget the coffee. Instead of serving a large brunch, go for a family outing to a beautiful park or a museum. Instead of spending money and overeating at a restaurant, buy Mom a gift—something she would never buy for herself.
To all of you who have or had mothers, Happy Mother’s Day.
By Beth Taubes
Beth Taubes RN, OCN, CBCN, CHC,CYT, is the owner of Wellness Motivations LLC. She motivates clients of all backgrounds, ages and health conditions to engage in improved self-care through nutritional counseling, fitness training, yoga practice and stress-reduction techniques. Sign up for the “count up to Shavous challenge” Gift Certificates available. Beth can be reached at [email protected] or wellnessmotivationsbt.com.