Mother’s Day is an interesting situation. A day dedicated to gratitude for our mother. If we also happen to be a mother then we may find ourselves both on the giving and receiving end of Mother’s Day acknowledgments. As a young mother I remember being extremely challenged by this tradition. I had my own child with certain expectations – that he would deliver a gift usually made in school and I would react with praise. And then in turn, I would deliver flowers to my mother, my husband’s mother and his paternal grandmother. When my grandma was living this would also include a visit to her nursing home. And we’d usually brunch with one of the mothers. This created a scheduling challenge, an expensive florist bill and a drive across town for multiple visits. Then inevitably we would have to choose which mother or grandmother to brunch with and by the time the day was done I found myself exhausted.
That’s when I decided we would brunch at my house and all the grandmothers or great grandmother’s could come to us. I would spoil with extravagant floral arrangements, corsages for each mom, pink champagne and a waffle bar that put Las Vegas to shame. Parting gifts too. Then I wouldn’t have to leave my home on Mother’s Day, wouldn’t have to drive across town and could enjoy my day with everyone together in one place. Still expensive but less exhausting. Money well spent.
This was genius really and friends started joining in, bringing their mother’s to my now famous brunch. Sometimes if it was warm, which it usually was in Southern California where we lived – we would go for a swim or lounge by the pool after brunch and make a whole day of it. My sister would come and sometimes my cousin and her mother in law, since we all shared the same grandma – who I would transport from her nursing home to hang with us at my house for the day.
Then it started to go south. We had more babies. Our kidless friends would bring their moms but then cut out right after brunch to go enjoy the pool at our other kidless friend’s house. That felt – shitty.
My husband’s grandmother passed on at age 100. Then my grandmother. My mother in law retired and moved out of state.
My sister and cousin stopped coming and started doing their own thing when they had kids. The kidless friends kept coming around but they left promptly after brunch. We tried inviting new friends, with kids and that worked sort of – our old friends and kid friends didn’t seem to mesh well. And we had a lot of kids running around – the whole vibe shifted from champagne by the pool to juice boxes and pool safety.
Then there was the pressure on my husband to make sure our new littles made a Mother’s Day card. And my now grown son off at college to remember to call home.
This year we find ourselves in a new state, a new life, new friends in a new community. My mom and my husband’s mom live in different states. And while Mother’s Day brunch at our house was an institution for over a decade, I wonder if it’s a tradition we should keep. Our last Mother’s Day (2020) in California was during the pandemic lock down. We couldn’t have anyone over so we delivered flowers and waffles to my mom and had our own small family breakfast at home. It was the finally that signaled the end of an era. It was easy actually.
This year I’ve thought I might make a reservation at a restaurant. I’ve wondered if my littles might have an expectation that we will keep the tradition alive and then I’ll feel pressured to re-create the party. Part of me misses the extravaganza at our house but bigger part of me wants to let go of what no longer serves me. I wonder how it will resolve – what direction the wind will blow- I have no intuitive knowing yet. We will see – I’m open.
Maybe it’s time for a new tradition. A new way of showing and receiving gratitude. Maybe we’ll zoom the grandmas into our celebration and mail traditional cards. Or maybe we’ll go camping and pack the waffle iron.
It is a new day. 2021 is a year of choices and change. Numerologically a five year. Mother’s Day is just one of the many changes this year that we are contemplating. I hope we find a way to make the day simpler, more enjoyable, less guilt ridden, less work and more gratitude. Mailing a small gift to the older generation and then going off the grid so no one can call might be the best way forward. No party, no mess to clean up, no disappointments or expectations. Just quality time in nature – the ultimate Mother worthy of our gratitude. I like this idea of re-framing the day and sharing the focus with the Mother archetype. Less on the individual. More on the higher calling and the supreme example of Mother. If my kids spend a day in nature in my name wherever they are in the world – I’ll feel much more honored and their reverence for the sanctity of motherhood will last longer than my lifetime. Less about an obligation to me and expectation from me and more about an acknowledgment of the archetype of mother. A relationship to what that means not only in their microcosm but also in the macrocosm. That feels more aligned with how I would choose to celebrate Mother’s Day if I step out of reacting to the expectation from the outside world around Mother’s Day and into a meaningful conscious choice.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mother Nature! You are our example, you are the giver of all life and you are within me.