One Mother’s Day as a newly married woman with no kids, I walked into Lutheran Church of Hope and was handed a pink carnation. I didn’t think much of it and figured they were intended to give to our mothers or would be part of worship in some way. Pastor Mike Housholder explained that every woman who walked in the door at Hope would receive the carnation as a celebration of women.
The tradition is credited to Anna Jarvis, who handed out 500 white carnations to everyone who attended her own mother’s funeral on May 10, 1908. Ever since, I’ve loved the concept of honoring every woman. It has changed my outlook on the holiday.
I’ve only been a mother for four years, and honestly, I have yet to enjoy the holiday. I’m sure things will change when my children get older, but so far there’s been this kind of unrealistic expectation that comes with other holidays like Valentine’s Day.
The sappy pleas to thank your mother feel so forced and not everyone wants to celebrate their moms.
One year my mother-in-law was in hospice and the next she was gone, making it a difficult day for our family to celebrate. Pastor Mike also points this out in his annual sermon that not everyone has a great relationship with their mothers, and the day can be hard for a lot of people.
This year I’ve decided to take a cue from church and change my outlook on the holiday. I intend to celebrate all of the strong women in my life, mothers or not.
Here are three ways I plan to do that and make the most of the day.
Send snail mail
I LOVE snail mail. I sit down about once a month at a desk in my home and catch up on some correspondence with far away friends like we’re living in the 1800s and I couldn’t just instantly send them a photo of what I’m doing. It’s therapeutic for me and I know that special cheer lets my friends know I’m thinking of them. So, this Mother’s Day I’m sitting down to liquidate some of my massive card collection (much like I did on Valentine’s Day one year), and reminding my fellow warriors how amazing they are.
Go out to brunch or lunch
I’m a fan of the lunch date. While on maternity leave it was my excuse to get out of the house and interact with adults. At work, I have to eat anyway, and I always force myself to get away from my desk because I return to work refreshed. I love catching up with friends over lunch, especially fellow moms because it gives us distraction-free time to ourselves without kids or spouses. It’s a special time and I have some ongoing lunches with friends that really refuel my soul.
This month I’m hosting some girlfriends at my house for a SUPER casual (I warned them I’ll be using paper plates) brunch with kids. I LOVE to watch our kids interact with each other, and they are who made us moms, after all. It’s what I’m most excited to do this month to celebrate Mother’s Day.
Pay it forward
Celebrate another woman the way you’d want to be celebrated. Buy her flowers, coffee, or a spa day. Take a new or younger mom under your wing and sit down to just listen to her latest struggle with whatever challenging kid-phase they are dealing with. Pass along the inspiration you feel from other mothers. Tell her “Good job,” for juggling so much instead of the tired, “I don’t know how she does it.”
Here’s the thing: we know we’re in a special club as moms. We’re a pretty intimidating bunch. It’s a sisterhood and there’s a mom code. But, not every woman wants kids. Not every woman can have kids. Everyone is different, and the best thing we can do for each other is to embrace that and just celebrate who we are. Yes, there’s International Women’s Day and a variety of other somewhat-made-up holidays, but here’s a day where we should all pause and just say, “Good job,” to one another.
In short, the essence of motherhood is that it’s not about you. I need to stop making this day about me. It’s time to celebrate YOU. Good job, mama! Keep going – because, I see you.