The internet has literally exploded in the last few days with all things mother. My inbox is a glut of all the different ways one can celebrate moms – Flowers! Brunch! Pastel clothing! Chocolate! Workout gear! Kid-friendly recipes! Family time! Jewelry! Craft Projects! Plants!
I’m starting to agree with Anne Lamott when she says, “No one is more sentimentalized in America than mothers on Mother’s Day.” I can’t go anywhere online without being confronted by tear-jerking, snot-inducing, warm and fuzzy YouTube videos about the sacrifices of moms in bathrobes making school lunches before the sun comes up.
Don’t get me wrong. I totally watch them. I’m a sucker for a good emotion-inducing experience. And if you’re in the mood, definitely check out this one about the one word you’d associate with your mom, and this one where the little blindfolded kids pick their moms out of a crowd, and this one and this one from the Olympics which both make me BAWL.
It’s OK. Go get some Kleenex. You’re welcome.
There’s something that sticks out to me from all these videos and pictures and ads. The ones that really get me sniffling are the ones that show moms in the mess and mundanity of every day. I love watching a mother combing a child’s hair, adjusting a baby’s blanket, wrapping a twisted ankle. Why?
These are the moments that no one usually sees.
Let’s face it. Motherhood is comprised mainly of stuff no one else will ever notice: the late night stumble into a crying child’s bedroom, the scrubbing of stains, the lunch that no one mentions. These things are done every day by a quiet army of women across the world, women who know at least one thing about motherhood that’s always true.
Mothering is lonely work.
Care and love and constant attention are draining on even the most patient of women. And just when we think we have a hold of what motherhood is supposed to mean, or look like, or feel like, it twists and flips and we’re left with nothing but a handful of slime.
Sometimes it’s a day to celebrate. Sometimes it’s a day to feel, to remember, to be overwhelmed. But always, it should be a day where mothers everywhere are SEEN.
Seen for the work they do, (or did.) For the carpets they vacuum. For the meals they put together. For the budgets they balance. For the clothing they wash and the miles they drive and the hours they spend at the table, the piano, the game.
Not that motherhood is all about work, but those things – those boring, every day unseen things – are acts of love. When we shine a flashlight on them, even for just a day, we tell our mothers a very important thing.
I see you.
I see your love tucked in Tupperware and folded in clean jeans. I see your heart in your offers to help, to paint, to take my little ones for an overnight. I see your attentiveness in your phone calls, your emails, your vigilance, your prayers.
I see you even when you’re gone. I look at pictures of you, and see the laundry basket in the background, the pot simmering on the stove. I see clean clothes and combed hair. I see the way you held me as a baby, like I was the most precious treasure you’d ever found.
I see you.
Which can also lead to other great phrases like, I love you. I appreciate you.
You know. Gooey stuff. Good stuff. Heart stuff. It’s Mother’s Day after all.
See her, and let her know she’s seen.