Mother’s Day can be difficult for women who are unable to have children or who have lost children to death or estrangement, or for those who feel they must constantly explain or defend the reasons they have chosen not to have children. Mother’s Day also can be difficult for those who have been hurt by their mothers. But Mother’s Day celebrations and remembrances do not have to be limited to the women who gave birth to us.
This coming Sunday, many of us will celebrate the women in our lives who have loved, nurtured, taught, mentored, challenged and befriended us, no matter what their relationship is to us. Some of them are our biological mothers. Some are our adopted mothers. Some are women who are unrelated to us, but show us kindness, listen to our troubles, cheer us on, teach us, lead us, correct us and heal us.
We celebrate the women in our lives who do not necessarily perform memorable acts, but rather offer small acts of gentle or tough love, shown over time — women who are not perfect, who don’t always do the right thing or make the right choices, but who offer us the best they can wherever they are on their journey.
Sometimes, we forget the grace and joy in the familiar, even in the people around us who we see every day. We hold onto an image of who and what they are that might be obscured by the past or blurred by the expectations we have of a “perfect family.”
We look for grandiose gestures or unique expressions, and fail to see that love comes in the ordinary — in a meal shared, in a look or a touch, in the everyday tasks of parenthood and friendship. We fail to celebrate their love for us in these small, everyday gestures and words.
I offer two thoughts this Mother’s Day. First, to the young people among us: Celebrate your mother and the other significant women in your life, even in their imperfection, even though they sometimes frustrate you. Celebrate that through years of taking care of you day after day, in ways big and small, they show you love in the best way they know.
And, to the mothers: Whether you get a diamond necklace or a homemade paper card on Mother’s Day — or even if you get no gift at all — celebrate every smile, every tear, every meal that you have shared with your child. Celebrate every time you worked late to provide shelter and food, every fever tended, every sacrifice made, whether your child celebrates you or not. In these small loving acts, done year upon year, you have shown love in the best way you could. Whether your child celebrates you in a big way or a quiet way, know that your love has been reflected in each and every gesture, in each cheese sandwich, in every bit of advice, and in a million other ways.
We honor all the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, daughters, friends, mentors, bosses, leaders, teachers and encouragers who offer us the love and support we need. We celebrate our imperfect mothers. We celebrate small acts of kindness and love.
Happy Mother’s Day to mothers everywhere, and to all the women who make us strong.
The Rev. Dr. Teresa Angle-Young is a mother, daughter and friend who does her best in those roles and as the Director of Seeker Advertising & Communication for United Methodist Communications.