Archive for May, 2010

Farewell Ms. Horne

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne (June 30, 1917 – May 9, 2010): Singer, Actress, Civil Rights Activist.

Mother’s Day Blues

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

For many mothers Mother’s Days is tinged with tragedy or sadness. A child’s death or teen suicide, having a child who is a deployed soldier fighting overseas, or one struggling with an illness in the hospital, or one incarcerated can make Mother’s Day a difficult day to get through.

Likewise, not every daughter (or son) looks forward to Mother’s Day. If your relationship with your mother is complicated, or you’re estranged from her, or if she’s no longer with you because of death or she no longer even knows your name because she has Alzheimer, waking up to a day called “Mother’s Day” can be painful.

Such reality was driven home to me recently on a listserv I belong to where one of the members on the list wrote honestly about not looking forward to church this Sunday. As you can see, her complaint was not about Mother’s Day only. It’s about the way the black church celebrates mothers and motherhood on that day.

Others on the listserv weighed in prompting me to ask permission to post for Something Within readers the provocative conversation about motherhood, Mother’s Day, and the church’s clumsy way of talking about motherhood that ensued.

******************************
With Mom gone 7 years, mothers day is a mixed bag for me. I’ve got some incredibly wonderful memories of the day but find that since Mom has died, i often avoid church (black or otherwise) on Mothers Day now. I thought i’d send a shout out to you all to see what you think of the ways black churches celebrate Mothers Day.

******************************

mother daughterLike many of the people weighing in, I’ve gotten to where I wince during Mother’s Day. My own mother died just before Mother’s Day weekend, 2002. I preached her funeral the Saturday before Mother’s Day. And she was my greatest theological inspiration and most quoted person. When I had to preach Mother’s Day in youth church 3 years later, I started the sermon out with “I don’t like Mother’s Day celebrations.” I talk about the joy and pain of being a mother, the joy and pain of being a daughter, the fact that not everyone in the room had “warm, fuzzies” about their moms, some didn’t know their moms, some moms were strung out, etc. The altar filled up with young people wanting to pour out their pain around “mother loss” and “mother grief” and “mother struggles.” It lasted longer than the sermon as they prayed, cried, repented, went to find their moms and beg forgiveness, accepted the notion that God had provided many mothers and aunts and cousins and sisters and friends to help shepherd them into womanhood and manhood. Upstairs, of course, the service was sugary sweet about mothers.

I don’t know what that says, but there it is. I will be with a friend on a beach of Mother’s Day. I don’t expect to hear from my younger son and grandchild because he doesn’t celebrate anything anymore. I will hear from my older son. I will feel loss and joy.

*******************************

I think also for me such celebrations tend to be insensitive to women
who have lost mothers, lost children, or who are not biological
mothers. And this is just symbolic of how they are looked upon beyond
the mother’s day celebration. Also while we emphasize that every
father is not a dad or vice versa, we do not emphasize that mothering
is about more than giving birth, more than being an incubator. Maybe
I’ve become too cynical. I am planning to become a foster or adoptive
mother soon– it’s a scary thing as I get closer to the reality of my
promise. Maybe mother’s day celebrations should intentionally
celebrate acts of mothering in the village and should be a platform
for extending our mothering impact on the global village.

*******************************

My mother has been dead for over twenty-five years, but I can’t say that’s the reason church Mother’s Day celebrations don’t get under my skin the way others describe. I have fond memories of my mother for sure, but not a lot. But I’ve learned not to resent other women’s Hallmark Card rhapsodies about their moms nor gag when the church goes off on one of its paeans to motherhood. I went to church on Mother’s Day when I wasn’t someone’s mother and still show up now that I am someone’s mother. I go, in part because I’m a woman who goes to church, but also because church is where lots and lots and lots of black mothers/black women are on Sundays. And as a womanist I relish the presence of black women and believe that despite my mother’s flaws there’s something healing and comforting about losing myself on Mother’s Day in a sea of black mothers asking God’s help to mother from a place of healing.

*********************************************

What do you think Something Within readers? What do you think about “Mother’s Day”?

Let’s be honest:  “Mother’s Day” has strayed from is original anti-war movement origins. Today’s celebration has nothing to do with appealing to the justice loving nature of women in general and mothers in particular. Maybe it should. Perhaps we need to go back to the roots of the celebration.

What do you think? What does “Mother Day” mean to you? How is the day celebrated at the churches you attend?