Moms speak out: what Mother’s Day really means (+ giveaway)

For lots of us, Mother’s Day brings more than a bouquet of organic roses; it brings up a lot of emotion about our role as daughter, mother, partner and more. Other than Scary‘s hilarious take on what mothers really want, most of the emails I saw about the day from blogs and businesses were beyond cheery. If I watched commercial TV, I expect I might have been overwhelmed by images of silk and sweets. The richness and complexity of this day often isn’t given adequate space.

After yesterday’s post when I shared some of my thoughts about Mother’s Day, I put out a call for others to weigh in about what they really want for Mother’s Day, what the day might have in store for them.

Please contribute to the conversation! Comment below or on Facebook and share about this post to enter our giveaway for two of my favorite books about mothering: Katrina Kenison‘s Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry about being present with young children and The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir about change and growth in the years before her sons left home. Both books are so heartfelt, so well-written, and so grounding, no matter what stage of parenthood — or living! — you’re in right now.

I had the honor of interviewing Katrina Kenison for TheDCMoms in advance of her visit to lil omm last January. I bought and had her sign several copies of her books, which I have been giving as gifts. These two are the last ones left, and I am thrilled to offer them this Mother’s Day. Enter by midnight on Monday, May 12 for a chance to win both.

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Read on for some more thoughtful reflections on Mother’s Day!

Lindsay Gonzales, Bradley childbirth instructor and founder of the DC Birth and Babies Fair: “For the last four out of five Mother’s Days that I have been a mother, we have gone camping. It is a vestige of our life before becoming parents, a hopeful seed planted for a future love of the outdoors in our son, and it’s generally nice weather and a good time.  This year, well, the weather doesn’t look so nice and after an unusually hard winter, we are all pretty wiped out. So this meaningful tradition I look forward to all year doesn’t sound so good. So what do I want this year?  I want to trust that I am not giving anything up by listening to my instincts when they say that this valued tradition feels like work this year, not fun. And to feel at peace that it will be waiting for us when it feels fun again.”

Nyle MacFarlane, occupational therapist and founder of Blue Nyle Therapy: “What I REALLY want for Mother’s Day is a REAL day off. I am not looking for breakfast in bed or a day at the spa. I just want a day where I can go to the bathroom without two girls joining me and the baby trying to stick her hand in the toilet as I wipe! With that said, I am actually really excited to be doing something with my 3 year-old girl that I have wanted to do since the day I found out I was pregnant: I am taking my oldest daughter to the Maryland Faerie Festival for the day while my husband stays home with the baby. We have to dress up as fairies, because humans are not allowed to be there, since we technically don’t know that fairies exist.”

Pleasance Silicki, founder and owner of lil omm yoga: “Mother’s Day is the most magical time of year for me and the work I do.  This year, I am hosting our 5th annual mother’s day event, it’s a very special evening of yoga & reflection & connection. (Some women I ONLY see once a year, when they come). I love being a mom AND it’s challenging, for sure. I love being part of something so much bigger than me.. in motherhood, in community, in our common human experiences.  I love the work that lil omm does to help provide a space for women to connect and stretch and love.  This year, I am celebrating with my daughter at Yogaville at a Circus Yoga Retreat, as a gift to myself. I feel incredibly lucky and aware that I have one of the most amazing jobs in DC. It’s soul work.”

Yoga image

Nancy Striniste, Early Childhood committee co-chair of NoVA Outside; landscape designer and founder of EarlySpace: “First I want to be with my children– when they’re grown, it’s a special gift and my daughter is flying in on Saturday! Next, I want to spend time with them doing something meaningful. This year, they’ve agreed to help me tame my wild garden.  As a landscape designer I’ve spent the past many weeks helping to create beautiful spaces for clients and overlooking my own weeds. It gives me great joy when my family works in the garden together without it being a chore, and I think we’re there.  My children and my husband notice and delight in the plants and insects and nature we’ve lured to our yard. Being together, creating together, and finally eating something yummy together will make me very very happy.”

A friend who prefers to remain anonymous: “Hallmark holiday that I dread. I dread it in part because I am still living under the same roof with my husband though trying to divorce him, and that can be complicated and stressful.

But also because still feel as if the kids don’t “get it.”  They ask me why there isn’t a kids’ day.  I tell them every day is kids’ day.  They look at me like I have three heads.

My most memorable mother’s day was when my son was five. Mind you, he is a terrific kid and we are super close and have a good relationship.  All I had wanted for mother’s day was to sleep in.  I was recovering from food poisoning and had been working hard and tons going on and I just wanted to sleep until like 10.  Each kid was told that’s what I wanted.  My son woke up early that morning and came in to ask his dad some stuff loudly.  I rolled over and reminded him that I needed to sleep.  He left but then came back to ask his dad some other things.  It was loud and disruptive and I woke up and felt crummy and said (in not a pleasant mommy tone), ‘All I want for mother’s day is to sleep. Cant you do at least that for me?’  And he got all testy and hollered, ‘I don’t CARE about mother’s day.  I care about XYZ.’

At age nine, he is now completely embarrassed that he ever said it (we have joked about it since).  But there was something so honest and candid and perfect about it.

Sleeping woman

Mother’s Day is just another opportunity for mothers to teach kids to (gradually) do for others and think of others and think outside of themselves.  But because most kids still need to be taught that lesson year after year (and beyond the teen years)….it is typically not the most relaxing day for mothers.

And for people whose marriages stink (and I don’t mean where I am now in the process of separation but for people who are in marriages that they find profoundly dissatisfying but haven’t moved to do anything about that or are struggling) mother’s day is a lightning rod for every way that relationship fails the mother on a day to day basis.”

Jessica Moore (formerly Clements), founder of Perinatal: A Symposium on Birth and Reproductive Rights and birth painter profiled in Reconciling Art and Mothering: “What I really want is … a day with both some quiet time for myself, not obligated to work or anything else; and quiet time with my kids, preferably with them in a good mood.  The theme:  I want a peaceful day, where I can honor both myself as a woman, and my relationship with my children as their mother (in that lovely idealized way, where nobody’s upset, hurt, stressed, or misbehaving, either them or me!).

As Mother’s Day approaches… I always feel caught in between.  I am a single mom, and so it is a day entirely of obligation and not of honor; it was like this when I was married, too, so maybe this is not about singleness! 🙂  I expect a day like any other, with the ups and downs of balancing work (single parent = weekend work to make up for lost hours during the week), maintaining a household and a home, parenting my kids, and taking care of our pets — plus needing to do something special for my own mom, who lives locally, expects to have a big event, and who reliably has a major stress illness or injury of one sort or another around this day.

Plans… My kids would normally be with their father all weekend, but because it’s Mother’s Day, they will come back to me early on Sunday morning. I might take a bike ride, if I can get up early enough, before they get back.  One they are here, maybe we will garden for a little while, if the weather cooperates, and then we will go to visit my mom.  I’ll bring her some kind of garden treasure, and possibly some gluten-free treats; but she has been ill, so maybe she won’t be able to enjoy them.

The kids, my mom, and my sister will play for a while, and I will sit outside to prevent an eruption of my cat allergy; we’ll have some kind of feast; and then we’ll grocery shop and come home, prepare homework and lunches for Monday, and I will put them to sleep.  Then I will either work for a bit, or maybe throw caution to the wind and gate myself into my studio to paint, with a glass of wine, some nice incense, and Carmen McRae singing Thelonius Monk.

The kids always do some little, sweet thing that when the day is over, I look at and cherish, and put someplace special. What is wonderful about Mother’s Day each year, despite all its pressures and flaws, is that for a glimpse of a moment the kids reach at the idea of saying ‘I love you’ a little more emphatically than they already do, at this young age.

And each year, as I grumble to myself about the stresses of Mother’s Day with my own mom, I have a mixture of amazement at how never-ending this job is, and how blissful, really, my relationship with my kids is now — and fortunate I am to be in this lovely honeymoon with them, compared with where we might all be in 10, 20, or 30 years.


And for the past two years, I have a horrible twinge of pain as I think about my own mother’s mortality; and how one year soon, all of my resentments, hurts, and frustrations with her will resolve into a too-late forgiveness, and remembering of the power of the love that I really feel for her.  (The Disney movie) Brave does this beautifully, in the dream scene where Merida remembers how her mother so loved and cared for her as a toddler, protecting her and comforting her in the storm; a memory that was lost in all of the practical irritations of daily life, and that was especially tender because her mother still loved and protected her this way, of course, but it was so much harder to see this through the lens of her independence.”


Thank you to everyone who shared so honestly! Maybe we will make this a Mindful Healthy Life tradition!

Please share how you are feeling this Mother’s Day!


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Copyright © 2015 Mindful Healthy Life. Created by MtoM Consulting.

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