Mother’s Day Musings

finding grace in the void.

Mother’s Day can be a hard day. I know.

For years I kept my head down and tried to pretend it was just another Sunday. A quick phone call to the woman who birthed me, maybe. Then back to routine.

But it’s not really the day itself that’s so hard, is it? Just stay home, and you don’t have to see the tables filled with mothers and daughters and flowers and gifts and smiles and laughter and hugs. It’s the weeks leading up. It’s the process of trying to find a greeting card that doesn’t say “You were the best mom!” or other glowing, insubstantial, and inappropriate words. It’s the constant reminders of what normal is, or at least what is possible.

But some of us have never known brunch with Mom (or even a cupcake or coffee or tea date).

We listen as others talk about shopping with their mothers or daughters and wonder what that would be like. Probably something more than the monotony of tagging along to the butcher and grocery store in the preschool years. What’s it like to try on clothes with Mom, or sample make-up, or browse aisles of unnecessary but pretty things? I don’t know.

Entering mid-life, a new layer unfolds: friends posting clips of their daughters’ dance or gymnastics  or swim meets, and a new ache opens unexpectedly. In layers, we realize what wasn’t there. Wonder and curiosity open along with the dull ache: what would it have been like to be supported in pursuing those childhood ambitions? How I longed to be a dancer…

Sometimes Mother’s Day hurts because a beloved mother is no longer present. But sometimes the pain is a dull grey of missing what was never really there at all.

And yet.

Today I celebrate mother’s day. Sixteen years ago, Mother’s Day became new for me with the life of a son growing inside me. And every year since my heart is filled with love, and my hands with flowers. A love to receive, yes, but also a love to give. And in the giving I find peace and grace for what wasn’t. I write a new story, and it is a story of joy, not sorrow. Thin arms slip around my neck and squeeze love into me, and all that is left is gratitude.

This is where I spend my attention.

Life is full of graces.

As my heart heals, I grow increasingly aware of, and open to receive, the maternal love that surrounds me. A mother-in-law who loves me as one of her own, who calls me when she knows I’m hurting, to whom I know I can reach out at any time, who radiates love and joy and enthusiasm but also compassion. A senior therapist mentor who sees good and potential in me and takes pride in helping me grow. An older yoga instructor who models a gentler, kinder, more optimistic way of seeing the world than I was raised to know. These are my mothers. I celebrate them all.

And there’s one more maternal relationship worth celebrating in my life: that of my own self-mothering of the lonely little black sheep girl inside. The kind and compassionate part who learned to love others and to care for myself like one worthy of care and finally to recognize the worth of that inner child. I have become the mother I always needed.

And I know, for many, Mother’s Day hurts because there are no arms to slip around your neck, or because arms that should have are not there with you and the numbers in your family portrait are off. This is only my story. But in your own, please give yourself permission to honor your pain, whether acute or aching. And as you mother your hurting inner parts with the compassion and kindness you have always deserved, may you, too, find grace and peace.

May you find your many mothers, and may you be one of them.

What graces do you find in and around your maternal wounds?

How can you extend grace and compassion to yourself today?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *