I knew Mother’s Day must be coming up, because the brands I follow on instagram started posting stories about things that mom would like, when normally, they don’t talk about motherhood at all. Oh, I thought, time to go shopping and honour the most vexing role and relationship there is. (Oh, the crushing cynicism.) If you have a hearts-and-unicorns relationship with motherhood – being a mother, or having a mother – feel free to remain in that lovely blessed blissful state, buy some flowers, and log off right now.
Me, personally, I find the day challenging. Just like I find there being “a day” for international women’s, and for the Earth, (as well as for siblings, pumpkins and groundhogs), challenging. Like, they all get equal weight? Most challenging, I find the recent trend of leveraging these days as a good instagram post topic. So, for the most part, I prefer to avoid instagram on siblings day, Earth Day and mother’s day, because it leaves me a little heart-jumpy. (May the Fourth, however, I love without reserve of complication.) I love my brother, my home planet and my mother. But it’s complicated. Way too complicated to be covered in a hashtag, photo or Hallmark card. (I mean, is your mother on instagram? Is she getting this message of love? Why do I need to read about it? Why don’t you just call her?)
There’s language for a lot of this, now, (my discomfort), that didn’t exist in the mainstream even three years ago. The word that blew my mind open and made me feel a lot less alone in my sense of “this seems simple for everyone else, why is it so damn complicated for me?” is this: mother wound. And it’s connected to how hard it is to be a woman, and a mother, in a patriarchal system, how hard that is been throughout generations, and how impossible it is not to pass some of that challenge/trauma/burden/wounding down. No blame. Just my head exploding open with a big aching OHHHHHHH.
Perhaps I have lost you here.
Perhaps I will just say: last minute reminder, if you didn’t get anything for mom, head to the nursery now and buy her a nice plant. (I love being gifted plants or herbs. Just saying.)
And: be kind to yourself. Sometimes, the most important “mothering” work any of us can do (men included) is towards our own inner child.
And: mothering and daughtering are complex dynamics that can hold a lot of contradictions, so here. Here is a list of things that can be equally true. That I really like. It applies to how I feel about mothering and daughtering. And a lot of other things too. It all belongs.
For a more eloquent take, read the always wonderful Courtney Martin, here.