Editorial: The Alchemy of Mothers


This Sunday is Mother’s Day. The cynics out there may say that Mother’s Day is nothing more than a day created by greeting card companies or florists to sell more of their wares. We think it is something more, much more. It is one day (really it should be every day) when we are encouraged to take some time and celebrate what our mothers have done for us.

We all have a mother. They are the one person with whom we will always have a special bond. Sure, our relationship with our mothers evolves over time as we ourselves grow and mature, but they leave an indelible mark on every one of their children. President Abraham Lincoln famously said: “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

Motherhood, giving birth to and raising a child, is a life filled with details large and small that, when attended to with love and grace, bind together in childhood to create adults with strength, compassion, and fortitude in a way that only those early moments can nurture.

A small scrape, a feverish and excruciatingly long night of the flu, a young broken heart or unkind word, a lost pet… all become moments when adults, and especially mothers, shine and change these hard moments into cherished memories that have transformed us all. Wounds are transformed into hugs and kisses; the flu becomes the memory of someone by your side all night long; hurt feelings become an eye opening talk about what makes you special and loved and strong; a lost pet becomes a neighborhood search for Mr. Bojangles.

Indeed, motherhood is a state of unselfishness; when the mother is no longer the center of the universe. They have voluntarily relinquished that place and put their child there.  From our earliest moments they are our fiercest protectors. William Makepeace Thackery, the 19th century English novelist said: “Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.” From our earliest memories they are our greatest healers. The fact they are able to take the difficult small calamites in a child’s life and transform them is a super power. It is a super power that they use most effectively on the daily details of life.

We all have that memory from childhood. The retelling of the story goes something like this: “I remember I was horsing around and then all of sudden I was in pain because (insert your favorite memory here)” he related to us, smiling sweetly, “and then my mother was just there, like out of nowhere, and her being there made me feel better.”

Mother’s Day is an opportunity to show gratitude for those incredible people who transcend painful moments, who arrive almost magically to perform a kind of alchemy that is hard to explain but results in a smile at the retelling of a painful tale. It is not the only opportunity, but it is good, in our busy daily lives, that we take at least this day to express that gratitude.

So yes, do go buy flowers—they smell nice and brighten any home. Do something nice for the mothers in your life. If they are no longer here, share their memory and story about how they made you feel better. How they took a dark moment and brightened it or how, just by smiling at you, holding you, protecting you their super powers made you feel safe and loved.

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