Mother’s Day "perpetuates the dangerous idea that all parents are somehow superior to non-parents." - Anne Lamotte
I am nobody's Mom is a favorite saying of mine and is my attempt to escape the stereotype that a woman of my age and my shape with my kind of silvery/gray hair inevitably will find herself in. While I have done plenty of nurturing, cared for my clients for more than three decades, and while I am currently doing my best, but never enough, to nurture my furry companions, I truly am nobody's Mom. That is how I like it and how I prefer it.
My Mom passed away suddenly while she had been pan-frying steaks. Earlier that day she had gone out shopping by bike, while the steaks were sizzling my Mom keeled over. For a fiercely independent woman, her heart attack was a merciful quick means of transitioning. She would have hated a stint at the hospital and worse an extended stay at a nursing home.
We were estranged for several decades until I got a chance to help my parents move from an apartment they had occupied for more than 40 years. This move into a new place at their advanced age was huge for them and so was my willingness to help them. It changed us. For that last year in my Mom's life, living on different continents, we enjoyed frequent phone calls that nurtured us both.
Unlike Anne Lamotte, I hold no animus against Mother's Day, it is only one of many holidays I don't celebrate. I don't feel slighted either by the focus on mothers, same as I don't feel slighted by someone focused on eating steak, something I have not cared to eat since I left my parent's home even though some considered my Mom's steaks the very best. Holidays have become so commercialized, why should I care, much less begrudge a woman a bit of special attention?
Endearing to read Anne Lamotte's annual piece on Mother's Day in which she states that flowers and chocolates "can fill me only if it is ordinary and available to all." Such a moving sentiment that reminds me how as a 10-year-old girl I felt similar in regard to the kingdom of heaven. I imagined it impossible to enjoy heaven in the knowledge that others might not be allowed in, worse, might be roasting in the supposedly cleansing fires of purgatory. Needless to say, I don't celebrate Christian holidays any longer either. I will admit, I even resent holiday greetings or token presents that lack authenticity and are not embedded in a real and caring relationship. This goes without say for birthdays too. Those yearly cards from those that one never hears from otherwise or those facebook well-wishes from those that never bother to visit much less interact with one's facebook posts, I can do without.
I am rather convinced I did the world a favor in not having set loose one more human on an already overpopulated globe. So this tidbit by Anne Lamotte rather surprised me. "Ninety-eight percent of American parents secretly feel that if you have not had and raised a child, your capacity for love is somehow diminished. Ninety-eight percent of American parents secretly believe that non-parents cannot possibly know what it is to love unconditionally, to be selfless, to put yourself at risk for the gravest loss." Really? In my professional life, I have seen way too much dysfunction from inadequate parenting that perpetuates trauma from one generation on to the next.
This said, wherever we find love, be that between mother and child, between parents that honor and respect one another, among best of friends that confide in each other, in the sacred bond between client and therapist, or in those special moments when strangers meet and reveal themselves with authenticity and an open heart, and not least in our caring for those that depend on us such as our animal companions, it is always a thing of beauty.