Mother’s Day is still a bit strange, to me. Not that it’s a bad thing to recognize moms worldwide (Wow! Izzat you, Mom?), but in the back of my mind there’s always a strange thought that the advertisements are not promoting distaff parents, but, instead, collectors of lepidopterae. Do we really need (I ask myself shortly after the antihistamines kick in) an entire day devoted to them? Birders, perhaps. Eelers, not so much. Moth-ers... like eelers. Maybe a recognition that some of those insects are rather attractive, but a whole Sunday in honor of people who chase them with lanterns and nets?
But then I take a break from my giddiness for a moment. It is not so great a departure from reality, my silly little word game. My mother is a flame to which I am drawn in the darkness.
I see my long-suffering mom and recognize that one single day of appreciation doesn’t cover the debt, and neither does a poesy and a box of bonbons. If I were going to start buying her chocolates and flowers in sufficient amounts to honor her, I’d need to win the lottery first. There’s no way I could afford to purchase enough tokens of appreciation, otherwise. Come to think of it, even a record-setting jackpot would probably come up short. I was the sort of kid many parents think they want until they get ones like me, and then they fantasize about sending us to gingerbread houses in the woods, or start eyeing the burlap sack and the river. And, yet, my mom still loves me. It’s probably a sickness in her, but I won’t look that gift lantern in the mouth. I’ll simply be amazed at how brilliantly her love seems to shine for her children.
While I am in awe of my own mom, I’ve still often wondered about those women who pitch in and do a great heap of parenting while not actually being biologically connected to the children. Do they get a day? After all, these are women who chose to take in somebody who might actually have been a complete stranger, and treat that stranger as if there were actual blood ties. They volunteer, they care, they protect, and they love with the best of ‘em, and, so far, I have yet to see a “Foster Parents’ Day” or a “Sheltering Arms Day”. I have known several wonderful people raising others’ kids as kin, and have seen the love they offer. When they do a good and loving job, they ought to be recognized for it.
And, those who are not actually raising kids, but still hold places in one’s heart, places of love and respect -- shouldn’t they get some credit, as well? It isn’t the sort of thing one can drop on, say, Valentine’s Day or Labor Day. Can’t we include them, somehow, so that they know they’re also crucial to the rearing of healthy children? The trusted mentor, the more experienced friend who goes above and beyond the call, the teacher or counselor who remains a guiding light long after school is out; they also deserve at least a small taste of acknowledgement. They, too, helped shape our better nature.
Maybe our moms will offer to share their day with these other women. For some reason, most moms have more than enough love, enough generosity of spirit to go around. We might easily touch our candles to theirs, and then pass the flickering glow outward, and when enough join in, the radiance rivals the dawn.
And, yet, I think I can not require this of my own mother. For all that our mothers sacrifice for us, we need expect no more. I will gladly share my mother with others, but not ask her to share what is rightfully hers.
The brightest luminary in our lives -- the one around whom all us moths flutter -- deserves this special day of recognition. She doesn’t have to be the person who originally gave us life, only the one who served as our guide, who taught us how to love unreservedly. It is Mother to whom we fly when all others fail us. It is she whose day this Sunday is, but she from whom all other days shine.