My favorites gifts have always been those which cannot be wrapped. They are gifts that say, “I see you. I am listening.” They may or may not come on any appointed day, but their value is intrinsic and enduring.
I have been in several stores this week and, everywhere you look, there are marketing sections centered around Mother’s Day. I watched the crowds swell in front of the card section yesterday as I made a return. Pre-made bouquets line the checkout lines and I shudder to think of the jewelry store budgets. To what end?
Most mothers that I know, mine included, just want extra hugs and a day off from dishes. We love the handmade cards from our children and the gratitude and care from our spouses, but that is all we need. (And some pink bubbles don’t hurt.)
But I know that I am one of the lucky ones. Anne Lamott posted a rant on her Facebook page yesterday about the holiday. And while her stance is more extreme than mine, it solidified some of the notions I have been having this week. I have been acutely aware of the pain that accompanies this, and many holidays, for people I love dearly.
I have friends that have lost mothers in recent years; the pain, which is always there, is magnified.
I have other friends who had mothers that they did not want to celebrate, the disappointment palpable.
I have friends that see the window of opportunity closing. They wanted to have children but are now understanding that age is working against them.
I have friends that have lost children, in pregnancy and years later. I cannot imagine the hole that will never be filled.
I have watched the avoidance, the cues, the attempts to put on a happy face from those that have not been able to have children, despite years of trying.
One woman I love more than life told me, “It is a sadness that never really goes away…people ask you ask the time, do you have kids? And you always have to answer no…it hurts a little every time.”
To all of these friends, I see you and I am listening.
I am grateful, beyond words, for a mother worth celebrating. She goes out of her way to make sure that people feel seen and heard.
Despite an impossible list of things to do, she would stop and talk with the butcher about his health problems.
Despite a dwindling checking account, she would buy groceries for the person struggling.
She would stop and pray with the person she just met in line at the bank and ask the teller about her new grandchild.
She was a mom to all of my friends, the queen of field trips and extra hugs.
She listened to the lonely, cried with the broken, rejoiced with relieved.
I see it in my siblings; I aspire to be like her. Mom, we saw, we listened.
George McDonald said, “If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.
This Mother’s Day, I am so grateful for the gifts my mother gave me. I am grateful for the children I have been given. I am grateful for my friends and family. I want you to know that you are seen, you are loved, and I am listening.