I’ve always been ambivalent about Mother’s day. Don’t get me wrong, I believe motherhood is an extremely challenging, important and profound path to take and I greatly admire many of the Mom’s I know. They amaze me and while I’m in awe of the great job they are doing, they almost always seem to worry that they aren’t good enough mothers! I wish I could show them what I see.
I did not grow up with the Hallmark image of a loving, supportive mother. I’ve made my peace with that after much soul searching and intense spiritual work. I suspect this may be true for many others who feel sadness when confronted with the overwhelming display of perfect motherhood and adoration poured out to Mother’s leading up to this day. But what if you don’t feel that? What if this further underlines what you did not experience? It can be a painful day for many.
Many years ago I had a Mothers’s day experience that took me further on the path to forgiving the woman whom I picked to be my complicated and tormented mother. I was leading a group of 27 spiritual adventurers (men and women) to Egypt and Turkey. We were scheduled to visit the ancient city of Ephesus when I realized that it was Mother’s day!
I decided to change our schedule and pay a visit to the House of Mary located on a nearby mountain top and considered by many to be where she spent her last days. It was a beautiful, warm day and as we walked up the path to her house the intense scent of blooming roses welcomed us. We formed a circle in her house and others who were also visiting the site joined in. We took one lit candle and I asked that as they received the candle passed around the circle, to send compassion, appreciation (and if needed) forgiveness to their mothers wherever they were.
As I offered a short blessing, the rose fragrance seemed to increase as the candle completed its journey. We all held hands, silently meditating together, overcome by the waves of love that rippled back to us and expanded our hearts. A few of the locals and tourist who had joined in hugged and thanked us as we gradually drifted off to continue our day. I felt a tremendous release from the blame I placed on my mother and felt the peace that comes from unconditional love and acceptance.
A second profound stage in healing my relationship was a trip to the Southwest with friends and a visit to El Santuario de Chimayo in New Mexico. It is a serene sanctuary that many believe has healing powers in the soil. I visit any sacred site I can find on my journeys, so off we went to meditate in the quiet little chapel.
Lulled by the soft sound of cooing mourning doves, I found myself drifting off into images of my childhood, overwhelmed by a great sadness and feeling of loss about what had not been. I heard a gentle internal voice say to me “You are my daughter in whom I am well pleased. Release her, for I am now your mother as you are to me.” I felt incredibly lightness fill me as I understood and received the energy that is the essence of mothering: love, support, nurturance, guidance, acceptance and forgiveness. Again, she spoke,”You are now your own mother as we must all be to each other.”
It was a deep repair to the broken heart I never seemed able to fix. Nurturing and loving myself was the remedy. Was that voice from Mary (the archetype of the universal mother), a spirit guide, God or my own higher soul teaching me? Is there really any difference? Does it even matter? I say, take truth where you find it.
I think its important for all of us to remember that no matter the relationship you have with your mother or your children, we are responsible for nurturing and loving ourselves and reflecting it into the world we create around us. No one else is ultimately the arbitrator of how you feel about yourself but you. I picked a tough family situation this lifetime to ultimately come to that truth and find the freedom in it.
So to those of you who find Mother’s day difficult (and those who don’t) and to all mothers everywhere I say, I love you, thank you for all you do, forgive yourself, love yourself. You are the Universal Mother, as are we all.