There is no other word quite like mother. For many, like myself, the word represents someone who is the purest form of selfless devotion, someone who epitomizes unconditional love and compassion. I am truly grateful that I have had almost 40 years of life experiencing this love from my “Ma.” But I am aware of what a blessing this is.
My husband lost his mother when he was just 16. Since her death he has led his life with an incredible perspective- to live life with positive energy and enthusiasm- much like his mother led hers. And while he has now had more Mother’s Days without his mom than with her, I know there are a few moments on this particular day each year when he feels a sting of pain.
This year we decided to spend some energy talking to our kids about honoring just a few of the mothers who are no longer with us- my husband’s mother and both of my grandmothers- all incredible women who have shaped who we are as individuals and as a family. Here are a few ways how:
1. Sharing Stories: This morning I realized that I had never told my girls about stories of my maternal grandmother, who lived with us during my most formative years as a young girl. As I started sharing stories of my grandmother, it became apparent how present my grandmother still is in our everyday lives. Several times a week I sing a song to my children, which I learned from my grandma, my “dida.” I used to watch my grandmother meditate, and now mindfulness is a major part of my life. She taught me how to play cards and Monopoly, which I play with my girls. Sharing stories of our family history can be a wonderful way to realize how connected our lives still are to our ancestors. And stories have an added benefit of positively influencing the well-being of our children and increasing empathy.
2. Donating to an Organization: A Mother’s Day tradition we have had for the last several years is to donate to an organization to honor my husband’s mother. Each year on Mother’s Day we donate to an organization called Bright Pink that supports the early detection and prevention of breast cancer. This year for the first time we will be donating to an organization that helps girls with STEM, in honor of my grandmother who was an incredible mathematician. Picking a cause that represents something significant about our ancestors can be a great way to celebrate their memory.
3. Watching Family Videos & Photos: I dug up old family pictures, and my girls got to see pictures of my paternal grandmother for the first time. My older daughter and I look a lot like her, and it is remarkable to see our family resemblance and pictures of my father as a baby. My husband also converted old VHS tapes of his childhood into DVDs which we watch occasionally and will be watching later today again. In the videos, you can see his mother come to life- the warmth and love that she exudes for her children- which is a powerful way for my girls to “meet” their grandmother.
4. Create a Family Tradition: And finally by doing an activity that our ancestral mothers did on Mother’s Day, whether it’s singing the song that my grandmother taught me or making a banana-peanut butter-sandwich, which my husband’s mother used to love, we can keep their memories alive.
This Mother’s Day I feel grateful. I feel grateful that I still have my “Ma” and that I am close to both my husband’s stepmother and his grandmother. I feel grateful for our fathers who have been steadfast rocks in our lives. I feel grateful for my children and my husband who are the epicenter of my life. I feel grateful for all our siblings who are such strong role models for our children. I feel grateful that I have such wonderful mom friends, who teach me so much everyday. And I’m grateful for our mothers who are no longer with us, but who will always continue to have a significant influence on our lives each and everyday.