As a society, there tends to be a greater influence placed on mothers. In fact, there seems to be this underlying implication that the more important parent is the mother – perhaps because of the seemingly high incidence of single-parent households headed by mothers which means the hype around Mothers Day is always a bit more intense than it is on Father’s Day. Or maybe that’s just me, and my 101 issues with just about everything. For the record, I believe that every child needs two parents who love and support them, whether this happens while living in the same house or not.
Anyway, there are certain occasions that often fill me with an unhealthy dose of dread and, sadly, Mother’s Day is one. Imagine an event in which everyone is participating and you cannot, like a vegetarian at a braai or a teetotaller at Happy Hour. It can get uncomfortable.
Before you start seeing horns on my head, please know that birthdays are also difficult for me. You can also add New Year’s Eve, Christmas, Family Day, or any other day that places emphasis on family. You see, I lost my mother when I was still trying to get used to my name and this physical realm we exist in, and, therefore, have had some serious mommy issues, which have wreaked havoc on my relationships with women in general.
Mothers Day has always reminded me that I have not been blessed with an experience that so many people hold dear. It took 29 years and a foray into spirituality to reach a point where I could acknowledge how much anger I had carried around with me through most of my childhood and early adulthood. It was at that moment that I really started building a relationship with my mother. We are fine now.
So you can imagine what it felt like when all around you – especially with commercialisation of just about every moment we hold dear (another issue) – the world is trumpeting the role, significance and love of mothers, I have often felt uncomfortable. A reminder of what I am missing.
I also discovered that the discomfort is not just limited to Mothers Day. My birthday always fills me with uneasiness. The day you arrived on this earth is a day to be celebrated but, without the one person who was actually there, the one person who nurtured you through nine months and endured immense pain to bring you into this world, it feels hollow.
My wedding day was also difficult. When it was time to take family pictures, where with a seemingly endless procession of parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, etc lined up to be captured for posterity in the loving presence of the beloveds, I missed my mother. Even now, I still remember the empty feeling that washed over me when I realised that she was the most important person missing from the celebration. I imagined how she would have been, smiling, laughing, crying, as her son took a step deeper into manhood.
As I said, we are fine now. Every birthday, I light a candle for her and spend a little time in meditation and conversation with her. On my anniversary, I remember that, even if she was not there physically, she was there. On Mother’s Day, I light another candle, whisper a few words to her and celebrate the day with my sisters and the other women in my life, who have been mothers to me.
I have been blessed enough to have had a number of mothers. Women who have come into my life, and continue to be in my life. Women who have guided and loved me as a mother would. Women to whom I am eternally grateful for keeping me relatively sane, through their mere presence. These have included older women who are mothered me in the traditional sense as well as women who, through our friendship (romantic or otherwise), have filled certain gaps that were left by the absence of my mother. These are my sisters. These are women who saw a boy in need of a loving word, a pat on the shoulder or a knowing smile. I am also blessed with a father who has served as both parents my entire life, which is why Fathers Day is always an extremely important day for me.
All of these people have made the journey a bit easier but, the bottom line is that nothing will compare to a mother’s love.
So, if you have your mother in your life, recognise how valuable that relationship is. As you submerge yourself in Mothers Day, take a moment to imagine what your life would be like without your mother and let those emotions guide you in acknowledging and celebrating her. That will have more of an impact than the Mothers Day specials, sales, discounts and promotions that you are bombarded with.
Recognise your blessings.