The Holy Day of Mother's Day

IMG_3973Yesterday my teacher said, “For me, Mother’s Day is a holy day. It’s not just about my actual mother or being a mother but a day to connect with the Divine Feminine, the great mother in all things.”

Much of my work is devoted to exploding the constrictive boundaries that define our modern life. I explode our definitions of romantic love from the limiting understanding that it’s only “a feeling” or “a knowing” into a much broader conceptualization that understands that love is also a choice, an act of will, a continual work-in-progress that can only be known over many, many years. I explode our definition of attraction from the superficial and widespread way our culture defines it in terms of physical appearance to a much wider and more compassionate definition that teaches people to see essence instead of image. I challenge our dominant parenting and educational models to assess how they stunt instead of support the development of a sense of Self. I expose the truth about transitions, how days like a wedding, that the culture upholds as the happiest day of a person’s wife, is actually a profound a life-altering transition that includes death and loss at its core.

Our cultures also squeezes holidays – holy days – into narrow definitions that somehow manage to make almost everyone feel badly. Let’s take Valentine’s Day, for example. It’s a day to celebrate love, but the culture says it’s only about celebrating people that are in intimate relationships. And it doesn’t stop there: the culture places expectations onto people in intimate relationships to shower each other with “romantic” gifts that prove their love. It’s too much pressure, too much narrow thinking for anyone to shine.

What I see with more clarity every day in my life a counselor, a friend, a wife, a woman, and a mother to two young boys is that nobody can shine when we’re forced to contort ourselves into the boxes our culture sets out for us. These boxes have the same two words written on them: normal and should. You should feel madly in love and wildly attracted to your partner all the time. You should celebrate Valentine’s Day with roses and chocolates. You should love every moment of parenting. And if you don’t have children, you’re not normal and you don’t deserve to celebrate Mother’s Day. It’s like the popularity club we were all exposed to in school extends into the rest of our lives, often in much more subtle and insidious ways. The covert message is that you’re not complete unless you’re part of the club, and that fulfillment and happiness can only occur when you attain all of the externals our culture says equate happiness: the degree, the job, the partner, the body, the face, the clothes, the car, the house, the paycheck, the recognition, the baby. These expectations and injunctions leave so much shame in their wake.

So today I want to explode open our limited conception of Mother’s Day.

The cultural definition says that Mother’s Day is to celebrate literal mothers, meaning someone who has children. And it seems our culture even wants to squeeze this definition into the tightest possible corset: a mother is someone who has given birth to biological children or raised a baby from birth. So it doesn’t allow room to celebrate step-children, foster children, adult children that someone has chosen to mother later in life. It doesn’t allow room for all manifestations of mother, both literal and metaphorical.

For we are all mothers. We mother friends, siblings, animals, creative projects, and the Earth. We mother others and we mother ourselves. And the divine feminine lives in all of us, both male and female. It’s the slow, creative, receptive energy that pulses like a great wild cat through the invisible veins of our lives. She need us and we need her, now more than ever. For today, let’s acknowledge all of the ways that we mother and are mothered; all of the ways the sacred feminine informs our lives. I’ll begin.

I am mother to my little cat, reveling in the great purrs that emanate through my chest as she sleeps on me at night, and she is mother to me.

I am mother to this land, caring for it as I would for any precious living thing, and she mothers me.

I am mother to my circle of soul-sisters, holding them through all of their sorrows and joys, just as they hold and mother me.

I am mother to my work, to the creative spirit that enters the channel of my being on wings of inspiration and asks only one thing: that I open, trust, and release it back into the world.

I am mother to my clients, seeing them through eyes of love and wholeness that, over time, help them to see themselves the same way.

I mother my two boys, a privilege for which I’m grateful daily.

I mother my husband, nurturing his true nature just as he mothers and nurtures mine.

For today, see if you can let go of the “shoulds”. Let go of everything the culture says this day is about and seek to find your own meaning, your own definition, and your own way of celebrating. It can be challenging, yes, when we’ve been conditioned to see it through one lens and that way is reinforced everywhere, but it’s a lot easier when you turn off your computer, log off of Facebook, and turn inward to find your own center of Self.

Then, emanating outward from inwardness, celebrate all of the ways the feminine lives inside of you: your creativity; your places of being, stillness, and silence; the slow, mercurial, moonlike place of timeless wisdom that can only be met when you spiral into the labyrinth of Self and meet the you of you sitting in the center as serene as a queen. Celebrate each way that the Great Mother manifests in your life: from the sacred temple of your body to your connection to loved ones. And consider how you are both mother and are mothered. Write them down and embrace this day as an opportunity to name and connect to the divine Mother that lives inside of you and all life.

14 comments to The Holy Day of Mother’s Day

  • Tina

    Thank you. <3

  • Charlie

    Dearest Sheryl,

    This is my first post although I have been a member for several months. I have wanted to write several times to say one thousand thank yous for making such a meaningful contribution to my life. Your posts provide great inspiration to me and have helped me become more empowered and self determining, and this article is no exception. I have been in a step parent relationship for 12 years and I have always undermined and undervalued my contribution to the lives of my partner’s children. Step-parenting for me has also meant that I have had the responsibilities of a parent and not the rights, furthermore, I don’t even have my own children because my partner didn’t want to have any more, I therefore feel I have suffered thrice over. I am a very nurturing and caring person and my family and friends have always commented that I would be a ‘good’ mother, and that I ‘should’ reconsider, reinforcing cultural indocrinations of what it truly is to be a woman, our biological right, what will complete me, that it isn’t the same not to have my own children and so forth. However, amongst it all, when I sit in ‘my’ stillness and silence the moonless, timeless wisdom and I see myself, the serene part of me tells me … I’m ok. And when I go to that place again, I will now be reminded of your words … I’m a mother in many different ways.

    With kindness, love and light

  • Lisa Galindo

    Sheryl,

    Beautiful article 🙂 It is an article meant for everyone on this earth because we are all mothers(nurtures) inside.

    A big hug!

  • Monica

    Lovely. Thanks so much.

  • Lisa

    Awesome, love your blogs, so uplifting 🙂

  • Clara

    Sheryl, thank you for these reflections on Mothers Day. For the past few years it has been a difficult day for my partner and I (we have had a very rocky road toward parenthood, as you know, and are still not ‘there’), but curiously this year was different. My partner had been very busy and stressed with work lately, and we slated Mothers Days as a day for her to spend exactly as she chose – with no input or opposition from me or anyone else. We deferred our celebrations with our own monthers, and had a day of exquisit simplicity – walking the dog, buying groceries, cooking a casserole for a bereaved friend. Although we weren’t exactly conscious of it, I believe we were using the day to honour something beyond the conventional idea of motherhood – and it was healing and restorative for us both.

  • onedatatatime

    So beautiful! Along with acknowledging my beautiful mother, I want to dedicate this to my aunt who is a loving and genuine caring soul. Sadly she was unable to have her own kids and I know this was and is still so hard for her. I have often wondered what it must feel like for her on a day like today with our popular culture’s definition of what it means to be a mother, and it saddens me because she deserves to celebrate this day! This has inspired me to pass this message onto her! 🙂

  • Angela

    Dearest Sheryl, love it.. Really love it. I always thought only mothers know the right things to say to their children. But I also learnt parents get mothered by their children. We all learn and teach other the meaning of love in many forms.

  • Marie

    Yes, yes, yes! ❤️

  • I love your teacher’s definition of Mother’s Day. All-embracing instead of limited and restrictive. I love how you call out those insidious things “normal” and “should” that sometimes sneak into our consciousness, and deconstruct brilliantly so it’s obvious how they don’t let anyone shine. Insightful and moving as always…thank you!

  • MEG

    I am not a mother but have always wanted to be, and will be some day. But for me, Mother’s Day and I have a very interesting relationship with one another. My anxiety and obsessions began on Mother’s Day, in 2012 with a panic attack that has since shaken the ground that I walk on. Since my wedding almost one year ago, I have been slowly getting better. Intrusive thoughts are there still (sometimes constantly), but I’m learning how to work through them.

    On my “two year anniversary” of beginning my deep transition into hell and back, I woke up with an amazing light and happy feeling. I meditated (as I often do to start my day), but this time I sat up taller than I’ve ever sat. I felt the sun’s rays differently on my eyelids. There was a calmness to my breathing that was much deeper than I’ve felt in a long time. I truly took care of myself on Mother’s Day this year. I did yoga, gardened all day long, and enjoyed time spent with my husband.

    Then a shift happened… While I laid awake at night, the thoughts that tormented me two years ago came flooding in like a tsunami. There was absolutely no space to distance myself from them: I was immediately believing all of the thoughts I heard in my head (“I’m supposed to leave my husband… he would be better without you”, “you thought that woman was attractive at Home Depot this afternoon…why won’t you just admit you’re living in denial?”. “that guy at work you had a dream about the other night would be better for you… you should see if he wants to hang out with you sometime”. My snoring husband had no clue. I was alone and scared. What hurt me the most were the thoughts of never seeing him again. The aftermath of last night is still with me today. My heart literally ached all day long. Maybe I put too much pressure on myself by acknowledging Mother’s Day as an anniversary of sorts. But I wonder, why after so much self-care, and after so much growth, I relapsed yesterday.

    For all of you suffering through this dark, emotional, obsessive stuff: I pray for you. We will get through this. I love you all.