Mother for a Day

In a world set on tearing itself apart because of its differences, there is one thing every single person has in common. We all have a mother. In societies enamored of domination and competition, we take one day out of the year to stop and remember those who gave of themselves so that we could live. We place this day on a Sunday, the most passive of days when it will not interfere with regular business. We give chocolates, flowers, fruit-baskets, and then go back to the same usual grind come the next day. At the risk of gender stereotyping here, I do wonder how much wisdom we must miss by relegating our mothers to the background.

Growing up, we all know, is inevitable. We need to release ourselves “from the apron strings” and learn to cope in a hostile world. Not only do those overseas, different from us, wish us harm, but even our neighbors become our competitors and although friendly, we look for a way to find our advantage. Motherhood is a reminder that there is another way. Families, at least ideally, are built on cooperation. A willingness to set aside our own personal agenda for that of those for whom we care deeply. Used to be that the largest families (before family became a weapon used by religion) were those best placed to succeed. You had a set of people who shared a common mother, who united in a cooperative venture. Capitalism has little room for such a dynamic. It’s “each man for himself.”

Although churches around the country will mention mothers in their services today, Mother’s Day is a secular holiday. Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and Mormons all have mothers. Many religious groups, however, do not. Just last week some Roman Catholic women were ordained as priests here in New Jersey. Of course, the “mother church” disowned them, as priesthood is a male prerogative. Mother’s Day is not on the church calendar. It grew out of the Civil War with the sad realization that, left to their own devices, men will make wars that pit brothers against one another. Although I am stereotyping again, I have a hard time imagining a mother who would do such a thing. Mother’s Day should be an opportunity. Not only should we thank or remember our mothers, we should take to heart what motherhood means. I can’t help but believe the world would be a better place for it.

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