In previous years we've concentrated on various legacy strategies to make the May Hallmark holiday, Mother's Day, substantive and meaningful.
One year, we celebrated our mothers with legacy letters of appreciation. In another year we reflected on mothering as action, something women do whether they have children or not. Women "mother" children, aging parents, pets, gardens, trees, the whole earth. A third year was a memory bouquet. We gifted our mothers writing our favorite stories about them.
This year, 2012, our topic for May comes from the Biblical commandment to honor and revere our mothers (and fathers). The Bible neither defines the words "honor" and "revere" nor does it explain how we are to do it. So in 2012 each of us, with our unique and complicated relationships with our mothers, has the privilege and the obligation to articulate our honoring and revering in a legacy letter.
As women, our mothers
remain not just with us,
but in us.
Our connection with mothers
is stronger than memory,
a kind of permeation
that goes beyond anything verbal.
-- Edna O'Brien
Because the mother-daughter relationship is complex, often fraught with conflict and struggle, we are challenged to speak our truth and simultaneously step into the shoes of our mothers. Experiencing compassion is possible as we step out of our old story and reflect on the relationship from a fresh perspective, a perspective of honoring and revering. Healing the life-giving intergenerational relationship is possible even if our mothers are no longer with us physically.
This may be a dry lecture, though one we all agree about. It would be good to honor and revere our mothers, but we're all busy, have barely time in our busy schedules to pick up a Mother's Day card. We think, "I'll file this away until some magical day in the future when I'll have time for such an exercise."
Here are some excerpts from real letters that honored and revered mothers in ways that freed and healed the writers:
- "Only when I became a mother myself did I understand how much you must have suffered in separating from me. Did you know you were dying?"
Suggestions for Action:
- Reflect on your relationship with your mother. Make a list of her strengths and limitations as you experience her.
May you deepen your integrity,
honesty, and compassion
as you honor and revere your mother.
-- Rachael Freed
You can find out more about communicating and preserving your legacy (ethical will) at Life-Legacies.com or through e-mail, email@example.com.
Rachael Freed has published: Women's Lives, Women's Legacies, Passing Your Beliefs and Blessings to Future Generations, The Women's Legacies Workbook for the Busy Woman, and Heartmates: A Guide for the Spouse and Family of the Heart Patient. She is currently working on Harvesting the Wisdom of Our Lives: An Intergenerational Legacy Guideto be published early 2013. Senior Fellow at the University of Minnesota's Center for Spirituality and Healing, Rachael is a clinical social worker, adult educator and legacy consultant. Her home is Minneapolis, Minnesota. For more information, visit Life-Legacies.com and Heartmates.us. Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/legacywriter
For more by Rachael Freed, click here.
For more on Mother's Day, click here.