It’s Mother’s Day weekend here in the U.S., a time when we celebrate mothers everywhere.
And that can be complicated for some of us.
Because not all moms fit the sentiment on a Hallmark card. And not all moms can be what we need them to be.
And yet we still celebrate – as we should. Because if we are lucky, most all of us have still been mothered by someone throughout our lives.
Maybe lots of someones. :)
Sometimes she’s a friend, a teacher or mentor. Sometimes, she’s a favorite aunt or a grandmother. Sometimes the women we love and honor are stepmothers, foster moms, adoptive moms, or neighbors. Sometimes she’s our pastor, our counselor, or the mother of our best friend.
Sometimes, she’s the one who brought us into the world. Sometimes, she isn’t.
Whoever she is, she’s exactly what we need, and she shows up in our lives exactly when we need her, as if she were hand-picked by God, just for us.
She knows when we need a hug, and when we need a kick in the pants. She knows when we need a lecture, and when we need a listener.
She nurtures and guides, teaches and challenges. She fusses at us, fights for us, and loves us into being better than we ever knew we could be. She gets us through when we don’t know what to do.
And when it’s time to celebrate, she might even bake the cake. :)
So it’s worth it, don’t you think, to love her back?
And thank her?
Take some time today to think about all the things you’ve learned, and received, from your own mom, or from all the “chosen moms” you’ve had in your life. Here’s a few favorites of my own, from a woman I love more than life itself.
1. Make yourself at home.
My mom is known for two things in particular: how comfortable guests feel when visiting her home, and how stuffed they’ll be when they fall into bed at night. She mothers everyone she meets, and that mama-love shows up in the way she runs her home.
Mama loves beautiful things, and – like her own mother – has a knack for taking nothing and turning it into something. Whatever the circumstances, wherever life has taken my folks, she turns houses into homes, creating spaces that are beautiful – and comfortable. There will always be flowers, and candles, and extra pillows and throws.
But it’s not spotless, and you’ll never think twice about kicking off your shoes and curling up on the couch. There will always be room for an extra seat at the table, and more food than you can shake a stick at.
Oh, and if you need something? Just help yourself. Make yourself at home.
2. Have some pride in yourself.
Way back, when I was a teen and went through a spell with a less-than-kind boyfriend, I’ll never forget my mom fussing at me for putting up with some of his antics. “Don’t you have any pride?” she asked, clearly frustrated. I imagine it was hard for her to watch, and wait, while I learned how to stand up for myself.
But eventually, she taught me that if you respect yourself, others will follow your lead. That didn’t mean one had to be aggressive or demanding; it meant speaking kindly, directly, but firmly when something needed to be addressed. It meant refusing to tolerate disrespect from others, including her kids. :)
And it meant everything from standing up straight to minding your manners, from taking care of your appearance to taking care of your property.
So do your best, kiddo, and straighten up!
3. Make some memories.
My mom was never one to spend much time playing with us as kids. That was Daddy’s job. (Besides, she was usually cooking!) But she’s always talked about how important it was to ‘make some memories’, something both of my folks have taught me to do.
Something I teach Courageous Women to do today. :)
We took a two-week family vacation every year, going anywhere we could reach with a car and a tent. We rode ferries and roller coasters, fed sea gulls and toured lighthouses. We had more picnics than I can count, and spent countless hours in ‘bear jams’ in the Smokies. Played cards and played music. Played baseball in the back yard, and drove the Dogwood Arts trails every spring. There were concerts in the basement and concerts in the park.
Yes, there were chores to be done – and we did those too. But you know what they say about all work and no play. So when the work’s done, get everyone in the car, throw in a bag of sandwiches, and go see what you can find.
Make some memories of your own.
4. Be prepared, and ready to adapt.
Once, when I was a kid, we took a short family hike in the Smokies on a sunny winter day. We were out for a Sunday drive when they decided rather spontaneously to take a short walk on an unnamed trail through the woods, which were beautiful that day with a light dusting of afternoon snow.
Unfortunately, that lovely snow also camouflaged the trail, and before they knew it, they’d lost sight of the road, AND the trail. We were lost.
As parents do, they never allowed their alarm to show, as we continued to wander through what seemed a grand adventure to my brother and I. Eventually, they somehow heard the sound of traffic, and were able to find their way back to the road, but we wandered for a couple of hours – and Mama was worried for a while there.
She says today that all she could think about was how she would keep us warm if we had to stay overnight in the woods, and she was kicking herself for not having any matches. It was just a walk, after all, so she had a purse with her – but no gear.
She’s carried matches ever since, and usually a flashlight too. :)
So don’t panic, but do be prepared. And carry matches in your purse.
(I have to share this…. as I’ve been writing this, my mom, whose 71st birthday is today and doesn’t know yet that I’m telling stories about her, reveals all kinds of funny things she carries in her purse. Every item has a reason for it’s presence — including the paint can opener — but it’s pretty funny! What’s in YOUR purse?)
We are all blessed by the mamas in our lives, those who mother us through good times and bad, high points and low, in big ways and small.
Last week, while doing a press conference about the upcoming Women’s Leadership Conference, my friend Deb fussed over me, straightening my collar and taking things out of my hands before I went on camera. I felt loved, mothered, by those small but caring acts.
I draw Courage, too, from the strength of my Mother – and the mothering of my friends.
And today, I just want to say….
And Happy Birthday, Mama. :)
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