This is the 18th Mother’s Day (yes, I’m still counting) I will wake as a childless person. Of course, I was ‘childless’ in the years before those 18 but those were either years of hopeful wishing or of blissful ignorance of any desire to be a mother.
I’ve spent more Mother’s Days than I care to remember wishing it were different – wishing I were a mother, wishing this moment would go away… then this moment…then this…
Every Mother’s Day I’m reminded of my childlessness, when my first thought is that, in a universe of endless universes, of infinite possibilities, in some ‘somewhere’ or ‘sometime’ I am a mother.
It is still difficult.
A couple of years ago a thought came to me while (and please just bear with me on this!) I was cleaning out the cat’s litter tray. I was in a hurry and kvetching* at having to carry out this yucky task at this particular moment. What if, I thought, a meteorite falls out of nowhere, hits the house right here and now and wipes me out? What if my last moment on earth was consumed by a kvetch?
The same could be said for Mother’s Day. I can wish all I want, roll my eyes, rant and rave at the ‘ridiculous commercialisation of what used to be a day for returning to our mother church’. But here we are – Mother’s Day – my metaphorical equivalent of the cat’s litter tray! No amount of wishing it were otherwise will make it so.
In ‘Wherever You Go There You Are’, Jon Kabat-Zinn says,
We don’t have to let our anxieties and our desire for certain results dominate the quality of the moment, even when things are painful.
Rumi in his poem, The Guest House (see below) reminds us that being human is to live wholly within each moment no matter what that moment brings – to treat each and every aspect of our human-ness as an honoured guest. I have learned from my pain as much as from my joy; maybe even more. And that is something to celebrate today, this moment.
The mother I could have been still lives and breathes in me and in everything I choose to bring to my days. The mother I could have been is part of my whole and is what makes me whole. I can choose to avoid or to rage against my pain today. Or I can take what I need from this one amazing moment and go to sleep tonight knowing I also gave to it. With love. Unconditionally.
With love and deep respect to everyone who finds Mother’s Day difficult for whatever reason.
*A wonderful Yiddish word that means griping or making a whiny complaint.
I have used sunflower images on this post as a mark of solidarity and love for Ukraine and for every human who is standing for and risking their freedom and their lives to end to the war and bloodshed.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī
Poem by Robert Bridges
Lino Print by D Sloan