As Mother’s Day approaches, some of us welcome the weekend with anticipation and pleasure. Others find this holiday to be tinged with regret or sorrow.
These women may be friends and neighbors, colleagues and mentors, daughters and sisters, aunts and grandmothers, nieces, teachers, and other members of our many communities in which we discover individuals to respect, admire, and love.
The reasons we love them of course are as varied as they are, and the many roles they play in our lives. If we’re fortunate, we value them for their smarts, wisdom, kindness, compassion, companionship. They model curiosity, initiative, ambition, achievement, perseverance, judgment.
May we also keep in mind the often challenging role of a stepmother? May we understand the special skills it takes to successfully navigate the sometimes sensitive issues that arise in blended families?
In honoring these good women, let’s remember to fête a Happy UN-Mother’s Day as well, appreciating that we do not all have children who treat us to cards and kisses, and we do not all have mothers with whom to spend the day.
Or, the relationships we do have are a source of confusion or conflict. We may be managing emotionally needy parents, and not just as they age. We may be struggling as parents ourselves, working to improve relationships with adolescent and adult children.
Even if our mothers are not the shining stars that we might have wished — we are all “only human” after all — most of us can name women in our lives whose presence has brought us lessons, laughter, and joy, and whose qualities continue to serve as examples to us.
I think of my maternal grandmother, with whom I remember spending visits sitting in her cozy den, watching the birds that came to the window where she set out seed, and the contentment I felt when the two of us were sketching together in the quiet.
I think of her sister, my great aunt, a warm, effusive, and nurturing woman, whose tiny home on the Chesapeake was filled with aromas of cooking and baking. She also possessed a strong love for nature and for making art. She and my grandmother painted exquisite small scale scenes in oils and watercolors.
Naturally, I think of my mother, now gone for more than a decade. She was a brilliant and complicated woman whose legacy to me is very much a mixed bag. Yet as I look around the room in which I write, I am face to face with her enormous positive influence; she gifted me with my passion for books and contemporary art.
In the spirit of honoring the good women in your life — mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, daughters, daughters-in-law — and of course, wife, girlfriend, friend — I hope you will raise a glass to them this weekend. Celebrate the significance of their contributions to your life.