Monday, May 9, 2011

A Belated Happy Mother's Day

I want to wish Happy Mother's Day to my wife, to my mother, and to all the mothers in my life.

In my lifetime, I've seen the meaning of the word mother shift dramatically. In just one generation, the typical mother has gone from someone who stayed at home and handled all of the skinned knees, sports practices, dance recitals, homework, and other school and household stuff to someone who handles all of that and often works 40 to 50 hours a week on top of it. I know consultants, lawyers and doctors who do this. Even mothers who don't work outside the home face many more challenges and options for their kids than our own mothers did. For every mother, it seems, there's a constant fear of failure.

In my view, mothers are heroic in our culture. There are simply not enough hours in the day, and yet mothers do their two or more jobs, without complaint, and in many ways form the backbone of our society. I sometimes wonder if what I write, talking about the possibility of happiness in each moment of work and life, can seem at all possible to today's mother. I think in some small way it can. That it might even be essential.

I've talked with moms who in the midst of the chaos think that they can't get it done, that it's simply not possible, that it's a thankless job. And yet time and time again they come through. Are they perfect? No. But is the job of parent about perfection? No.

Parenting is about the small moments, the moments of presence, of connection. And I think moms should find solace that they can succeed even if they missed the game or the recital, even if they were occasionally late for the pickup. If they regularly have that felt connection with their children, if their children understand that mom and dad hear them and are on their side, then parents have done everything that anyone can possible expect of them and more.

That possibility of connection is right here, in this moment, in each moment we have with our children. It only takes a few of these moments to provide a lifetime of learning and bonding. Even if those moments happen when we're late to meet the bus. Parenting, like everything else, is about accepting what is. Thinking we should be better at it only adds to our suffering.

I want to thank and honor mothers everywhere for being perfect, just as they are, in everything they do.


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