Updated: Jun 6, 2020
Whether you are a mother or have a mother, Mother's Day is an annual homage to the women that nurture. In this post, Dr. Regan encourages you to let the day be whatever it is without trying to recreate an idyllic image on a greeting card.
Holidays provide signposts throughout the year, invitations to celebrate moments, events, and relationships. These cycles offer us reassuring structure and repetition as the earth orbits once more around the sun.
In the most traditional sense, Mothers' Day celebrates biological motherhood. In an inclusive sense, we honor women, mothering, and nurturance.
THE TRAP OF RE-CREATING AN IDEAL
Although repetition and milestones can be anchoring, we may feel an invitation to put on a mask, to play the part: the smiling mother, hugging her children, finally fulfilled and happy as a woman.
Although these moments are true, the big picture of mothering is much scarier, rougher, and messier.
HOW CAN WE ALLOW MOTHERS' DAY TO BE WHAT IT IS THIS YEAR?
If we release the exact re-creation of a holiday ideal, we allow ourselves to ask, "What does Mothers' Day mean to me this year?" or "What will Mothers' Day look like this year?"
I invite you to consider these invitations:
How Can I Honor the Courage of Mothering
Perhaps you will take the day to honor the courage and endurance required to mother. Being a mother is the most courageous thing I've ever attempted. I realize that I can influence my son's well-being but have so much less control than I would like. There are so many unexpected things, ups and downs, and unknown endings.
What courage have you experienced in the mothering role? Perhaps the relationship you have with your biological mother demands bravery. Maybe you dive deep for strength when you share your authentic mothering self, warts and all. You may face each day with grit and determination as you maneuver infertility or an empty nest.
Mothering and being mothered takes courage. Honor this.
2. Allow Room for the Tension Between Tradition and Change
Allow yourself the freedom to ask what will be the same and what will be different this holiday? Realize that the dichotomy of sameness and change is healthy, and holidays do not "need to look" the same each year. What traditions will you follow, and what will you let go of this year? Each holiday can be both the same and different.
3. Let Mothering Look Different Across Seasons
Sometimes there may be a straightforward answer to what a mother "should do" in a situation. For example, children should be fed and bathed. What about the more complex situations of life? What "should" a mother do for an adult child who is struggling? What "should" step-mothering look like in comparison with biological mothering? There is no clear answer to these questions that fits every situation.
When I enter complex seasons, I have learned to release these questions. In the real messiness of life, there are often no clear "shoulds" and no guaranteed outcomes. What I have learned to ask instead is, "What would mothering well in this season look like?" If I don't have all the answers, and taking each step forward requires courage, I can commit to wading through complexity the best that I can.
Mothering and being mothered is messy. It is unpredictable. It is different every season. Our honoring of Motherhood should be the same.