Mother's Day 2021

Mother’s Day is a holiday I understand, or at least I think I do. I grew up with an amazing mother. She raised seven children, four adopted and three born to her. She showed each of us her love, support and devotion. She made each of us feel special. Along with her work as a homemaker, she was a full partner in our family’s business, rising early in the morning to do bookwork for the business, sharing in important decisions, working to make the company grow. She not only married a pilot, she became one herself in a time when there weren’t many women who were licensed pilots. I had the special good fortune of having our mother live in our home at the end of her life. I watched her face serious illness and disability with humor and grace. Mother’s Day for me is filled with wonderful memories of an amazing woman.

She isn’t the only amazing mother in my life. I know men who joke about their mother-in-law, but I married into a family who accepted me fully as a son. My mother-in-law was always wonderful to me. I joke with my wife and her sisters that I think I was their mother’s favorite child. That isn’t true, because she was very careful not to choose favorites and to be fair to all of her children. What is true is that she treated me as one of her children and for that I’m grateful. She could pick out a shirt that I loved to wear. She cared for me with deep love and devotion when I was injured on summer. Mother’s Day makes me feel deep gratitude for her presence in my life.

I am married to an amazing mother. Like my mother, she is mother to a child who came to our family by birth and a child who came to our family by adoption. She has shown deep love and care for both children. She has been an amazing partner in parenting at every stage of our children’s lives. I love to listen in when she speaks with our daughter or our son. She is an amazing listener and an inspiring partner in life. She balanced home life with a successful professional career and was always there to support my adventures and endeavors. Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate the good fortune of sharing life with her.

I have a daughter-in-law who is a wonderful mother to three of our grandchildren. She juggles a professional career with her love of the farm’s plants and animals and her dedication to her children. When the pandemic closed the schools, she opened up a home school and dove in with an extra layer of hard work. She is continually seeking and researching new ways to help her children grow and learn and develop. She shares home and farm with our son and supports his career as well. Mother’s Day is a time for our family to focus our attention on her children’s gifts and greetings, but I share their enthusiasm and love for her.

I knew long before she became a mother that our daughter would be a wonderful mother and I was right. Her absolute and complete delight in raising her son is so contagious that I look forward to every conversation and every picture that she sends in text and email messages. She achieves a delightful balance of love and support with clear and consistent limits and boundaries for our grandson. If they had lined up all of the children seeking adoption in the world and allowed us to choose, we couldn’t have made a better choice for a daughter. And in the mix we got an amazing mother who fills Mother’s Day with joy for me.

I know, however, that not everyone has had the experiences I have known. There are mothers who have strained and broken relationships with their children. There are children who have experienced abuse at the hands of mothers. There are people for whom this day is a day of deep pain.

On Mother’s Day, I can’t avoid thinking of a young woman I know whose young son died suddenly of an undetected heart malfunction. Every day is a day of grief for her, even a couple of years after her loss. She will never again be the same. Mother’s Day is a day of deep grief for her. She is not alone. Many mothers have gone through the deep gut-wrenching loss of a child.

And I think of women who want to become mothers but are unable. They live with a sense of loss of their vision of what their lives might have been.

There are mothers who became mothers at a time when they weren’t ready and those who became pregnant through relationships that were forced or painful or broken.

There are single mothers who feel alone in the world struggling to survive in a world where the odds seem to be stacked against them.

There are many people for whom Mother’s Day is not a day of celebration, but a reminder of pain and sorrow and sadness. Just as our mothers received our every emotion, this day brings every emotion imaginable to people. And in just month it will be Father’s Day - a day filled with emotions as complex as today.

So when I wish you a happy Mother’s Day, I embrace the many different emotions that you might bring to this day. I know that tears of joy and tears of sadness often mingle on the same cheek. I know that grief and joy often inhabit the same moment in the same person. I know that we are far more complex than one might imagine from reading a display of Mother’s Day cards in the store. May this day be a time of recognizing the power of the relationships we have with mothers and of celebrating the mothers of our lives in ways that nurture and sustain our spirits.

Happy Mother’s Day!