Spending Time With Mother (Nature)
Today is Mother’s Day in the United States. A day to thank Mom for all she has done to bear us, for the sacrifices, the love, the meals, the guidance and for her presence. Mother’s Day has a long and interesting history. Mother’s Day began as a progressive movement advocated for by a handful of activist women.
- In 1858, when Anna Reese Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker, organized “Mother’s Work Days” to improve the sanitation and avert deaths from disease-bearing insects and seepage of polluted water. Anna began giving carnations to mothers in her Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia.
- In 1872, when Boston poet, pacifist and women’s suffragist Julia Ward Howe established a special day for mothers –and for peace– not long after the bloody Franco-Prussian War.
- In 1905, when Anna Jarvis died. Her daughter, also named Anna, decided to memorialize her mother’s lifelong activism, and began a campaign that culminated in 1914 when Congress passed a Mother’s Day resolution.
As the years progressed and commercialization of the holiday began to take over Jarvis’ original intent that the day be an intimate affair between mother and child(ren), Jarvis came to be disappointed in those who sought to monetize love and loyalty.
As the parade of pastel cards, memorials, tributes to Mom, flowers, dinner and even gardening centers benefit from the day, my thoughts turn to those for whom the day has a different meaning. Those for whom Mother was not a nurturer, but the source of abuse and neglect. For those persons, Mother’s Day can be a source of high anxiety and sadness.
For years, Mother’s Day has been a source of sadness and anxiety for me for a number of reasons: My mother abandoned me at 8 months old, my grandmother and grandfather raised me and my grandmother was physically, emotionally and verbally abusive. Mom, while occasionally present, really only dealt with me when there was a new relationship in her world. I am incapable of having children of my own due to endometriosis and the resultant hysterectomy, so the opportunity to be a better mother than my mother(s) is gone. As I near 50 years old, raising a child is impractical. I was raised by parents who were in their late 60s when I came along; I know the disadvantages to both parties of that arrangement.
For those of us with abusive backgrounds, the saccharine sentiments on Hallmark cards don’t apply to us:
“You have always been there for me.” Huh? No.
“Thank you for always listening to me.” No.
“A mother is a gift from God forever.” No, I didn’t feel that at all.
“A mother sacrifices for her child.” That doesn’t work when mom abandons you at 8 months old and your grandmother who raised you was abusive.
“Thank you for your love.” I only felt her “love” when there was a new man to show me off to.
So. . .what to do about this Mother’s Day thing. This year, I will celebrate in a way that affirms me. Today, I will spend time with Mother Nature. I will walk with her, hold her in my hands, drink of her perfume, marvel at her beauty and the way she supports me, the way she has given me life and nourishment. I will allow her to love me and me her. Today, I will love Mother in a way I have never before. I will define Mother in my own way and she will bring me peace.
© 2013 Paulissa Kipp