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My Ever-Evolving Attitude about Mother's Day
by Carol Merrick

In the past Mother's Day has been a difficult time for me because I grew up in a home with a mother who often had severe mental and emotional problems. Even during her good times, I was afraid of her since I never knew when she would be ill again, and I knew that somehow it was my fault.

It took years for me to understand and accept her condition, to discover who she really was, forgive her for what she couldn't control, and reconnect my love for her. Since her death in 1984, Mother's Day and her birthday were a time of remembrance and mourning for me. Our media glamorizes mother-daughter bonds often without acknowledging or supporting the difficulties many of us had with our caregivers.

Soon after my mother's death as I grieved her loss, I wished for a different outcome, a different mother, and in addition my confusion made me wonder what I could have done differently, what I could have done better. If I could only have another opportunity to see her, I thought.

Then when I learned to meditate in 1985, I found a way to reconnect with her. Visualizing my mother's presence, I talked to her and listened for her reply. For instance, nine months after her death when my grief was overwhelming me, I meditated and she came to me. After thanking me for all I had done for her, she gave me her blessings and told me to go live my life. My release was instantaneous and lasting.

My career as a mother has had its own thorns. I raised two sons, mostly by myself, who are loving and caring men, but when they left home, I was no longer a priority in their life. Mother's Day came and I received no card, no phone call, no remembrance. One of my friends told me I had not instilled enough GUILT into my children since they didn't feel obliged to send me anything. "If that's the case, I guess I should rejoice," I responded, "since I want them to remember me because of love, not duty." But of course, I had other interpretations of why my children hadn't written. My grief and distress triggered my own ambivalent feelings toward my mother, and again I couldn't wait for Mother's Day to be over.

Shortly after that I decided to stop taking my sons' actions personally and resolved not to put my happiness into other people's hands. The next year I began celebrating Mother's Day in my own way, buying flowers for myself or taking myself to a special event in honor of all I had done for my children. I felt empowered on Mother's Day.

Time passed and things changed. Now that my sons are older, they often send their cards to me BEFORE Mother's Day instead of a week late.

Recently I took another step in celebration of Mother's Day by focusing upon my relationship with Mother Earth. Away from the media which exhorts us to show our love by buying things, I gather with family and friends in a park, forest, or ocean beach where we collect bottles, cans, paper, and other garbage in order to make the earth more beautiful. As I bend down, I feel the wind in my hair, the rain on my face (or if I'm lucky, the sun), smell the new growth of plants, flowers, and trees, hear the call of the birds, and experience the beauty that surrounds me.

After an hour or more of collecting, we gather for a potluck lunch with prayer and thanksgiving. During these times, I am in the moment and find peace and joy while venerating the true Mother of all species.

Carol Merrick welcomes your comments at cmerrick@pacifier.com or 13376 Chelsea Loop, Tigard, OR 97223.

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