Like many mothers, I have had breakfast served in bed by broad smiling children. Yes, on Mothers Day. Some years, I probably did not deserve the honor! Curious? Read on!
The Beginning of Mother’s Day
Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia began the campaign that brought about the official observance of Mother’s Day. Her mother died, and Anna wanted all mothers to be remembered. She asked that white carnations be the official mother’s day symbol. In 1914, US President Woodrow Wilson signed the order that made Mother’s Day a national holiday.
Since then, clichés flow on Mother’s Day describing maternal love as a blessing, a rare tenderness or a gift from heaven.
M is for the millions of things she does for you.
O is for the endless optimism she has for you.
T is for the many tears she has shed for you.
H is for her heart—always opens for you.
E is for her endless patience, endless kindness & endless love of you.
R is for ridiculous. This is ridiculous! Who could possibility live up to this standard?
I know I do not and never did. I am the resilient survivor of 3 children and they are survivors of me and my hubby. The first was planned. That’s Benjamin. The second was planned and adopted. That’s Kelly. The third was “Oh! Oh! Les, our birth control didn’t work.” That’s Katie and we’re so glad she came to us! They are now grown and their own life agents.
If you ask them about the mothering they received, you would hear three different descriptions. Benjamin calls me Mom. Katie calls me Mother, and Kelly calls me MooMoo. No, I am not still nursing any of them!
Carolyn Myss, in her book, Sacred Contracts, describes mother archetypes: Notice if you have experienced or witnessed any of these:
- The Good Mother archetype is filled with compassion and forgiveness for her children and puts them before herself. She can become the beloved martyr.
- The Perfect Mother archetype is described in Judith Warner’s book, Perfect Madness. Some women go to outrageous lengths to fulfill a societal expectation of perfect motherhood. But do we not need to let our children down so they leave home?
Then there are the Shadow Mother Archetypes:
- The Devouring Mother consumes her children psychologically and emotionally often instilling in them feelings of guilt at leaving her or becoming independent.
- The Abusive or Abandoning Mother violates natural laws by harming her own children. In A Boy Called It, Dave Pelzer describes his mentally ill mother’s attempts to kill him.
The Career Mom archetype is a modern phenomenon of women who struggle with mixed feelings of accomplishment and guilt.
Note: If you are interested in learning more Myss has descriptions plus suggested movies and books on her website of the different archetypes we live out in our relationships.
Oprah Winfrey once said, “Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.”
We do women and men a disservice when we pigeon-hole their ability to nurture, or not, into straight jackets. A couple of years ago, I was asked to speak at Adoption Options, an agency that demonstrates flexibility in its placements. One couple who had adopted a petite yet vibrant little girl were two men.
Love and care come in many different forms, sometimes a match, sometimes a mismatch. We do not choose our mother or father but we can choose to give ourselves the kind of love we understand and long for.
If you are or were blessed, as I was, to have a dear of a mother, do take the opportunity to express your love and appreciation of her but don’t forget others who nurture with care, attention and comfort.
What are your experiences of the word mother?
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Patricia Morgan MA CCC helps her readers, clients, and audiences lighten their load, brighten their outlook, and strengthen their resilience. To go from woe to WOW call 403.242.7796 or email a request.
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