קמו בניה ויאשרוה, בעלה ויהללה :OT

Sinead Cusack as Hannah Thornton in North & South, episode 1. My cap.

Happy (North American) Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there. My mom doesn’t know this blog exists, but I just talked to her on the phone. She had a nice day with my brother’s family, and a little relief from her worries. And I’ll be there in less than a month. My mom is a lot like Hannah Thornton, on the whole. I’ve grown to appreciate those qualities somewhat more since leaving home. She did teach me a lot about self-denial. It’s a mixed blessing. She might have been too successful. I don’t care. I love her and I don’t want her to change or go away, ever.

But Mother’s Day is another one of those holidays that makes people who don’t fit the social stereotype feel marginalized. Like every holiday, Mother’s Day generates expectations about feelings and actions, some of which are fulfilled, many of which are not. My own feelings have changed — and so, presumably, have those of my mother. This was me a few years ago:

Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) struggles to accommodate the information about his mother’s and his own past given to him by Robin’s father in Robin Hood 3.10. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

A lot of people who have to honor their mothers primarily in their absence, either because they’re not present, or too ill to talk, or because relations are so strained that even pro forma communication is impossible. I’m thinking today especially of a student of mine who feels she can’t speak to her mother because her mother will not accept her for the person she’s become. And I’m mourning that the cause of the thawing in my relationship with my mother, six years ago, came primarily because of trouble in my life. I wish things could have been different for all those years that they were hard. Not that it’s always easy, even now. But we have both learned to be kinder to each other, and this is what I wish for my student and her mother.

John Standring (Richard Armitage) gives Carol a necklace that had belonged to his mother in Sparkhouse, episode 2. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

And then there are all the people who mother without ever having had biological children. I think of my best friend from college, who stepped into stepmothering a child to whom I think she paid much more attention than either of his biological parents did, who made important sacrifices for him. What would we do without all those mother figures in our lives who set us an example, who put us on the right path, and who loved us, totally without obligation or reward? And yet Mother’s Day is often a particularly difficult day in the life of adoptive families, or for single women who take on mother-like roles but don’t have their own kids to remember them.

To children: wherever you are on this spectrum, from joyful and grateful, to pensive, to struggling, it’s ok to be there. To mothers, both the traditional and the unrecognized, thank you for all the love you were able to give us, in whatever form. Some day all of us, mothers and children, will understand all this much better.

~ by Servetus on May 9, 2011.

9 Responses to “קמו בניה ויאשרוה, בעלה ויהללה :OT”

  1. Mother’s Day is bittersweet for me now. I had a bit of a crying jag earlier in the day. I am 50 but I still need my mother, although I would never wish her back here in the very fragile, damaged state in which she died. Even though she is gone, I still feel her presence and I sometimes see glimpses of her in my face and hear her in my voice.

    Like most mothers and daughters, we had our ups and downs, our highs and lows. Sometimes she embarrassed me as a mierably self-conscious adolescent. Sometimes her infuriated me. I am pretty sure I drove her a bit nuts sometimes. But there was always that fierce sort of love and strong bond between us.

    She and I probably spent more time together than she did with any other family member the last years of her life. I lived within walking distance. She always wanted me to toot my horn when I was coming home late after covering a nighttime event. Since she went to bed early, I hesitated to do it and disturb her. However, I reaized she was willing herself to try to stay awake so she could hear that horn . . .

    You are so right, Servetus–the unofficial moms in our lives can mean an awful lot to us and sometimes do a better job than the ones who actually brought us into this world.

    Thankfully, most parents do the best they can, the best they know how. My hat is off to all those who do it well, because it has to be perhaps the toughest job in the world.

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  2. The two mothers in North and South are well drawn. Hannah so warm and open and loving and accepting of her children. Mrs. Hale interested only in herself and using Margaret and Mr. Hale for whipping.

    The silences, the long pauses in N&S conversations are wonderful.

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  3. To all mothers: natural, fostering or adopting ones, Happy Mother’s Day.
    This might be the toughest and yet most rewarding job of all!

    To all the ladies that don’t have the opportunity to be one of those mentioned above, at some point, some times, you might have been important part of some child’s live, and for you , thank you.

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  4. I have a good relation with my mother, so being in different countries this last 3 years, with no opportunity to see her until at least another year and a half, is a bit hard. Most of the time is bereable thanks to tecnology, we are able to keep in touch as much as possible (anyone working on a free teletransportation system ?).

    As John Thornton I’m very greatful to have her as my mother and as you say Angie, you can have any age and will always need her.

    OML 🙂

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  5. Like Angie and no doubt others, my Mom is no longer around having passed away a number of years ago and only a year older than what my age is now. Gives me pause for thought although my Dad lived to be 93. I had a really great relationship with my mom and being an only child and my dad being away a lot – in the Army not long after I was born and then later because of business – we spent a lot of time together. We had tough times during the war (WW 2) when my dad was away for months on end and we endured nights in shelters while bombs rained down on our city and all the other stuff that wartime situations entailed. I remember an incident one night when we were headed for our air-raid shelter and a bomb hit a school nearby, how my mom shielded me with her body on the outside stairway in case of debris flying around. I can still “see” the outline of the archway above the stairs as it was lit up by the explosion! I still miss her and even yet, after all these years, wish she was around to answer some question I might have! Now, being a grandma myself (and G-d willing, a great-grandma in Novemeber) it is me they come to for answers! Hope I can live up to the task!!

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  6. […] Mother’s Day, North America. I basically still feel about this holiday how I felt last year. This year, of course, I’m home. We went to church, and I made a big dinner. I was relieved […]

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  7. […] written about Mothers’ Day before. I love and admire my mother and am grateful for her role in my life. I am a daughter who would […]

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