Looking back over my years of blogging, I’m not sure I’ve ever written a post for Mother’s Day. I suppose that makes sense as I’ve never posted on Sundays and the annual holiday is set for the second Sunday in May.
Maybe this year it’s more poignant as it’s my first Mother’s Day without my mom. She died in January, and my eyes are still frequently drawn to things I would have purchased for her for special occasions. I look at the last Christmas present she sent me, knowing that she specially picked it for me. She was never very good at gift giving—she knew it and my siblings and children often laugh about things we’ve received. But that last gift is, well, the last gift. Even if it isn’t what I would have picked for myself, it is slowly growing on me simply because she thought it was beautiful and she sent it to me.
Goodness, this post got sappy. But I have a point, really I do.
Celebrating Mother’s Day
My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it. ~Mark Twain
If you look into the founding of the holiday, you’ll see that the punctuation was very specific. The woman who worked tirelessly to establish it wanted each individual person to honor their particular mother; hence the singular noun with an apostrophe s. Apparently, President Wilson agreed with her when he signed a Presidential Proclamation declaring it a national holiday.
But life is complicated. Mother’s Day is Sunday, and we have all kinds of women around us. Some had great mothers, or at least mothers who gave it their best which was better than many got. Others had horrible or difficult mothers, and the relationship has never been what you wished it could be. Some of you, like me, face Mother’s Day without your mom on this earth, and others face the holiday without children—because the relationship is strained, death took them, or perhaps God never gave you a child.
How can we follow the commandment to honor our mother in each of these situations?
If your mother is alive, and the relationship is currently good . . .
Spend some time thanking God for who your mom is today. Even if she didn’t always get it right—and she didn’t—she is doing her part now to be a blessing to you. Regardless of the past and where she still gets it wrong, that’s something to praise.
Connect with her however she most likes. Some women feel most loved when they receive a gift, others a well-selected card personalized with a short note. Maybe cooking her dinner would make her day, or spending the afternoon watching her favorite movie.
Also, consider going old school with a letter in the mail. My mom always liked to hear our voices on the phone. She cherished our visits when we were in town, and she loved to receive presents. But she was of the generation that sent hand-written notes through the postal service, and until her last days, she loved her friends and relatives in that manner. It’s not that she thrived on positive words, but the written word means something that I think we forget in our age of easy access.
If your mother is alive, and the relationship is not good or downright unhealthy . . .
This is perhaps the most difficult situation for me to give quick advice about. It can be heart-wrenchingly painful if you want a close friendship with your mom but her life or her choices are toxic to your mental or physical health. Boundaries must be put into place.
Here, honoring a parent here looks very different from all the Hallmark commercials and sappy cards. If you want to make contact of some kind but the cards all go too far, you could purchase a blank card and add a note telling her you are thinking about her. Honoring her on this day includes being honest about who she is and forgiving her for the times she’s hurt you. Be open to the possibility that God can still work a miracle in your relationship—to redeem what is and restore His best to you both—but don’t place unrealistic expectations on yourself or on her.
If your mother is no longer alive . . .
First of all, let me say, “I’m sorry.” Nothing in this world is quite like the mother/child relationship, even when it’s not all you hope for. Honoring her can happen in several different ways. Did she love to cook or bake? Take one of her recipe cards and frame it. Have a family full of stories about her? Buy a journal and pass it around, everyone adding their own favorite tale or phrase she used to say. Did she love the outdoors? Plant a tree or start a garden. If she loved people, look for opportunities to do random acts of kindness.
Or perhaps, take a moment to look around you and find a woman whose children aren’t around for the holiday. Adopt her as your mom, loving on her and allowing her to love on you.
If you’re a mother (or woman) with no children around . . .
This is also a painful situation, and I want to treat it with the utmost respect for the difficulties that surround you. But I also want to point out that it is often through our pain that God reveals an opportunity we may never have recognized otherwise.
As a military brat and then a military wife, I’ve spent many holidays alone. Easter with just two parents and one child isn’t all that exciting, particularly when your mom doesn’t like to cook. Christmas with just you, a toddler, and an infant isn’t such a grand thing either, especially when you opened presents 2-weeks early before daddy deployed.
When we first moved to North Carolina, an older couple adopted us, inviting us over for Thanksgiving with their kids and grandkids. It wasn’t anything grandiose. We squished ourselves around the kitchen table while football blasted from the living room and kids asked for dessert to go with their turkey. But it was the best holiday we’d had since we joined the military. Someone cared.
So, attempt to reach out. I’m sure if you ask God for the eyes to see, He’ll bring someone to your attention that needs your tender, loving care.
I’m sure I’ve missed something. So, tell me . . .
Y’all are full of knowledge and experience I don’t have, so I’m sure I’ve missed or neglected something. What are your best tips and advice for honoring our moms on Mother’s Day?
In Kindling Embers, Cassandra McCarthy boldly steps into a career dominated by men: Fire inspecting. Fire science fascinates her, even though the obstacles—limited money to pay for college, single mother to two young daughters—intimidate her. But she conquers her fears and overcomes her doubts so that by the start of the first book, we find her doing what she loves.
This book is FREE on Mother’s Day weekend! Help me spread the word . . .
Inspector Cassandra McCarthy never thought she’d be raising her two daughters alone, but her husband’s unexpected death forced her to find a career. Now working beside a retired Special Operations soldier and veteran fireman, she serves her small North Carolina town, protecting them from hazards they don’t understand. She loves what she does and trusts God to provide—until a series of unexplained fires hits too close to home.