Why Bother Noticing Discomfort?

Why Bother Noticing Discomfort?

For some, Mother’s Day can be an uncomfortable day. Though the meaning behind Mother’s Day is a good one, “to honor the sacrifices mothers make for their children,” not all women on Mother’s Day will feel honored. Instead, some will feel left out, awkward and forgotten. 

Various Moods on Mother’s Day

Some of my friends choose not to be a mother because of their childhood. Their own mother was abusive and they are afraid of repeating the same pattern. Other friends have no choice in the matter. They cannot conceive. They have tried every medical option, yet without success. Mother’s Day is heartbreaking and only reminds them of what they can never have. 

Then there is the category of mothers who have lost their children or a child through death or estrangement. One friend told me the sad story of the birth of her only child. “It was a stillbirth,” she said. “My one and only chance to have a child and he died. Does that still make me a mother?” she asked. Another friend told me how her daughter wants nothing to do with her. She not only lost the connection with her only child, but also the chance of being a grandmother to her grandchildren. 

But, in spite of how any of us feel, Mother’s Day still comes and it will also go. But what can we do about feeling uncomfortable when the day arrives and brings us a bouquet of  disappointments instead of flowers? 

 Discomfort is not a welcoming emotion. Generally, we strive toward happiness, an emotion we desire more than uneasiness. But from my own experiences, discomfort has never killed me. It is uncomfortable, but not a matter of life and death. When we sense we are overlooked, unacknowledged or experience a heavy heart we may get the sense that we need to fight against or flee from this distressful feeling. But we really don’t. Instead, we can calm down and become curious. Like taking a different route to work or walking along a new hiking trail, we might notice something new. 

Historical stories are attached to our angst feelings. Events that happened in our past, such as the death of a child or an abusive mother are real, but the emotions surrounding the event keep us hitched to how we felt at that time in our history, not to how we feel in the present. Feelings are a funny thing, they have a hard time moving past an old event. 

Why bother noticing discomfort? It is worth it to notice our discomfort. It allows us to be curious and our curiosity can lead us to view what we’ve never seen before. 

Why Bother To Keep It Simple?

Why Bother To Keep It Simple?

Mother’s Day has become something other than its original author, Anna M. Jarvis,  intended for it to be. Anna M. Jarvis’ mother died on the second Sunday in May 1905. After her death, Anna desired to honor her mother and campaigned for the second Sunday of May as a time to honor all mothers, living or dead. 

Mother’s Day became an official holiday in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed  a bill designating the second Sunday in May as to honor all mothers. Thus began the tradition of recognizing mothers during church services in simple yet respectful ways such as handing out white carnations. But what began as Jarvis’ campaign to honor mothers turned into something else.

Commercialized

Before Jarvis’ death, she wanted to abolish the very holiday she’d once worked hard to create. For her, Mother’s Day had strayed far from its origins of revering mothers in a church service and had instead, turned into a money making venture for florists, card companies and candy stores. Jarvis was dismayed seeing how the special day became a way for businesses to market goods to consumers. What had begun as a simple and good idea, turned into something else completely.

Mother’s Day is still on our calendars. Candy, flowers, and cards are still marketed to consumers who will spend billions of dollars just to say, “Happy Mother’s Day,” to their moms. But what do mothers really want on Mother’s Day? 

I think Anna Jarvis had the right idea. She wanted to recognize, remember and show appreciation for all that her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis had done. She’d taught Sunday school, and worked hard to improve the living conditions in her community. She mentored younger mothers teaching them how to care for their children. Ann lived during the Civil War and promoted peace among families no matter which side of the line they lived on, the north or the south. In essence, Ann Reeves Jarvis served others and her daughter wanted her mother’s service  to be remembered. Mothers do serve in selfless ways beginning with their families and rippling out into their communities. Just remembering what your mother has done for you and appreciating her job as a mom is a great way to say, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.” 

Why bother to keep it simple? It is worth remembering and appreciating your mother, but you don’t have to wait for a special holiday to do that! Any day will do. 

Why Bother Remembering Your Mother?

We may not all be mothers, but we all have one. They may or may not still be living. We might be able to recall some great moments with her, or some not so great moments. Either way, they bore us or perhaps adopted us, and they became our mother. 

Your Version

Everyone has a different version of a mom. Maybe she was the motherly type, maybe not.  She may have loved the role as a mother, or she could have despised it. You could have been her favorite child or her least favorite child. But, we’ve all experienced the mother child relationship to some extent or another. 

I never connected emotionally with Mom. I preferred my dad who spoke my love language; undivided attention. Maybe he had more time. Motherhood, after all, requires an immense amount of focused time and energy. As the old adage goes; “A man may work from dusk to dawn, but a woman’s work is never done.”

Though my youngest brother can attest to spending time alone with mom before he was old enough to go off to school like the rest of us, I don’t remember ever having that kind of undivided attention from her. 

In my teens, I  tried to mimic the relationships my older sisters had with Mom. They could sit and chat with her like a good friend.  But when I took Mom out for coffee once, it was awkward. We had nothing to say to each other. 

At eighteen, I left home and sometimes would reflect back on my childhood. Recalling  a word or an attitude I’d displayed toward Mom, I’d have regrets. During one of my visits back home to see her, I’d asked forgiveness for the things I thought must have been painful for her.  My words made her uncomfortable, and she could do nothing except to ignore them. 

 Yet even with our lack of emotional connectedness she did teach me a thing or two. She taught me how to drive and how to sort laundry. She also gave me advice, albeit a little quirky. 

She was an avid reader of newsletters, magazines and newspapers and she liked clipping articles out of these publications. Using a black sharpie, she’d write our name at the top of a particular article she wanted us to read, and then put them where we’d see them. 

One such article, Don’t Make Mountains Out of Molehills, appeared on my dresser one morning when I was a high school student. I don’t remember gaining any profound wisdom from the article. I just wondered why we couldn’t just have a face to face conversation. 

By the time I’d married and had my own children, I’d given up analyzing my relationship or lack of relationship with my mother. I quit trying to make it something it never would be; close. I accepted it for what it was, civil, courteous, and diplomatic. 

Why bother remembering your mother? As Mothers Day approaches, I’d like to hear from you about your mother. Was there a piece of advice she gave you that you followed? Did she have a quirky habit that may have irritated you as a child but now you find endearing? Did she teach you something practical that remains a skill for you today? 

If you want to share an honoring memory of your mother, I will post some of them on my blog on Mothers Day. Send them to the my email address found on my contact page and include your name.