What it is…

Silhouette of Happy Mother Playing Outside with BabyHappy Mother’s Day. Whether you’re a woman or a man, and whatever this day is like for you, I hold out my hand to you in sisterhood.

To begin at the beginning, we all had a mother. Some of us never had a chance to know our moms, and that leaves a hole in your heart, however wonderful your life may be otherwise.

Some of us had mothers who let us down in various ways. We’re the ones in the Hallmark store looking for a card that doesn’t make us feel like a hypocrite. We see the loving sentiments to moms on social media, and feel a little awkward and envious.

Some of us had truly wonderful mothers who are gone now, and – especially if the loss is recent – the day is more sorrowful than joyous. Some of us have lost the relationship we once had with our moms through dementia or alcoholism or illness.

Some of us wanted to be mothers, but it never happened. It just wasn’t possible physically, or the timing was never right, or we never found the right partner. Some of us made it part of the way – we had miscarriages, or babies who weren’t long on earth. For those women, Mother’s Day may feel like a cruel joke.

Some of us brought up our beautiful children, and lost them too soon through illness, or accidents, or suicide. For those moms, the road to acceptance and healing may include some very tough Mother’s Days, indeed.

Some of us mothered other women’s children, but the people around us, including those children themselves, don’t give us full recognition for the amount of love and sacrifice we contributed. There are no flowers, or Mother’s Day cards in the mail. Foster moms often wonder and worry about their foster kids for years after they have gone from our homes.

Some of us were the moms who let down our kids. We failed them, or hurt them, or abandoned them, and the regret and guilt are heavy in our hearts.

Some of us thought we were doing fine, but for one reason or another, our children have abandoned us. We don’t hear from them. We don’t know their families. For those moms, Mother’s Day is heartbreaking.

We live in a culture that values appearances. It’s easy to imagine everybody else is having a great Mother’s Day, surrounded by their grateful, perfect children. Many of us are having that kind of a day, and we do have that happy, functional family.

But most of us have walked through fire, at least part of the way. Most of us have cried tears over our own childhoods, and over our children. Most of us have soldiered on through fears and disappointments, and with a great deal of gratitude, we find we have made it to the other side.

Being human is risky business. Living and growing requires bravery. Being a child, and – God knows, being a mom – require immense patience and great courage.

This is what I know: Every one of us did the very best we could, moment by moment. Whatever challenges motherhood holds for us now, things can get better. Whatever pain we are experiencing now, we can and will feel better in days to come, if we surrender to what is and find our place of peace.

So for all of us, whether life looks like the picture on the Hallmark card or something considerably less glorious, forgive yourself. Forgive your mother. Forgive your kids. Breathe in and out, and love yourself.

Meanwhile, it is what it is.

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