Long before Hallmark came along and invented such obvious commercial ploys as Sweetest Day or Grandparents Day, there was Mother’s Day.
For those of us with mothers who are geographically distant, this can present a dilemma, though one which is easily resolved, with a little forethought.
Quasi religious in its nature, since it was first celebrated or designed for being noticed in a church, the celebration of maternity still is, for most U.S. citizens, affiliated with religious overtones.
Whether it is because women are the driving force behind many churches and their ministry, or a more primitive realization that life itself is first recognized as a gift associated with women, and therefore the primeval sacred, is a question for the anthropologists to deal with.
What we’re going to pursue here is the simple realization that throughout much of human history, women have been the first teacher, the first nurturer, the first solid security that most children know.
That’s not to say that men have not been doing their jobs. Often those jobs were less intimately connected with home and hearth. Examples from many hunting based societies point us to a matriarchy, developed partly because being an adult male was a risky business, with the existence of hunting and warfare.
It’s also not to say that men are not great nurturers when we get the chance. Taking my turn as caretaker when we divided up staying with a sick little girl this week gave Mikayla and I a chance to create some really cool art on a very large piece of paper, teaching new kinds of brushes and how to use them along with color theory.
For just a few minutes, I gained a deeper understanding of why some families choose to home school.
Yet in our increasingly complex and pluralistic world, the concept of Mothers Day holds more than nostalgia — it redefines us at our very roots as men and women who first saw the light of day because someone risked childbirth for us.
It’s too easy and too misguided to replace that powerful, life embracing thunder with a kind of sappy card store set of platitudes. That’s one reason it was so much fun helping Mikayla on her sick day create a Mothers Day picture for her Nana; it is poster size and has all the vibrant, bright color and shapes of a 7-year-old abstractly celebrating life.
Whatever else it may do, it aptly honors the maternal connection she feels with Janice.
On the other hand, selecting a Mothers Day gift for my mom we simply gave in to the old adage — diamonds are a girl’s best friend.