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I have not posted here in a little while. In part, because the business of life has caught up with me, and, in part, because in the midst of huge changes in this country, inspiration is not coming as quickly. But I canâ€™t miss a chance to embrace this Valentineâ€™s Day. Â
You may call it a Hallmark holiday, or a day reserved for lovebirds, but as you may have read before, I disagree. Valentineâ€™s Day is a day you can chose to dread or relish, or anything in-between. This year, as February 14 approaches I am hoping we can use it as a reminder that we all can actively #ChooseLove, and see if we can find some joy and maybe even understanding.
Remember when you were in elementary school, and had to spend all afternoon the day before Valentineâ€™s Day making sure you had a card for every other kid in your class? Or remember last year, when you stayed up late finishing your childâ€™s class cards? The Valentineâ€™s Day of early childhood isnâ€™t just about your romantic partner, itâ€™s about your friends (and maybe some kids who arenâ€™t really friends at all). It might be about buying things–cards, stickers, candy–but it is also about performing a gesture of caring for the people around you.
We are living in a time of tremendous divides in our country and our communities. Be it politics, faith, country of origin or some other line that separates one from another, this is a great time to #ChooseLove. You can choose whatever you want for your February 14: a hot date with your partner, a boycott of the Hallmark store, a giant candy heart to share or not to share, but Iâ€™d encourage you to think of it as a chance to try to see your friends, neighbors, colleagues or the strangers in your life with love. Â
Just like writing Valentineâ€™s cards for your classmates, it is easier to do this for some people than others. But I believe that the act of trying to extend love can bring us closer together, or, at the very least, warm our hearts just a bit more than the day before Valentineâ€™s or the day after. So will you try it with me? Â
Motherâ€™s Day is coming, in case you havenâ€™t stepped foot in a commercial district recently. With it comes a whole host of emotions. You can hear them in casual conversations and read about them all over the blogosphere. Today, I want to put a stake in the ground in favor. In three strokes, let me try to convince you that Motherâ€™s Day is worthwhile.
Reason # 1: It’s a freebie for most Interfaith couples (or maybe couples of any stripe). Â
One reason you likelyÂ came to this websiteÂ is because you are questioning how to make it â€śworkâ€ť as an interfaith family. For all the joy of our religious holidays, building any kind of tradition different than the ones you grew up with can bring anxieties, bumps and challenges. Hereâ€™s a holiday that doesnâ€™t belong to any religion, at least not in its observance today. It is a bunch of Americans getting together with families or friends and celebrating the mothers in our lives. For most of us, it will be a holiday both you and your partner grew up with, even if you grew up in different corners of the country with entirely dissimilar faith perspectives. So take this gift of a holiday that you hopefully can celebrate equally with all of your families.
Reason # 2: Itâ€™s not all about Hallmark. Â
I get the sentiment that we shouldnâ€™t orient ourselves (or our spending) to something created by a corporation. Or, I should say, I sort of get it. First, if you donâ€™t like the Hallmark stuff, celebrate the amazing true stories of the women who gave Hallmark the ideaâ€”activistsÂ Ann Jarvis and Julia Ward Howe. Second, perhaps less inspirationally, I ask you to consider this from my personal history. My mother took advantage of the opportunityÂ to celebrate almost every holiday she could get her hands on. Having grown up that way, well, it’s not all that bad. For those of us who are lucky enough to have the means to afford the basics, is there really a better way to spend your spare change than on a small gesture for someone about whom you care? Is there any danger in heeding the calendar as a reminder to spend time with the person or people whose mothering means a lot in your life? Â Maybe Hallmark popularized this holiday, but I hold them harmless. Sometimes we need reminders to do the most basic but important things.
Reason # 3: It takes a village to raise a mother.
Four years ago, my mother passed away just before Motherâ€™s Day. There are no words for the awful of that week. I suspect that the confluence of these two dates will always bring me a little pain. I appreciate there are people who feel all kinds of loss on Motherâ€™s Day. I understand some of it wellâ€”anger atÂ losing a cherished relationship and frustration for the things you never had time to share. I also know there are some kinds of loss I canâ€™t entirelyÂ understandâ€”lossÂ for unsatisfying relationships with mothers who are alive but arenâ€™t in our lives, bereavement for mothers we never got to know, deep grief for children we didnâ€™t get to parent. I grant all of those grievers license to feel through their Motherâ€™s Days however they need.
But for those of you still open to my treatise, I offer this. My success with my girls is in part due to how I have been mothered through my parenting journey. I cannot celebrate my mother how I wish I could. But I can celebrate mothers I hold most dear. My own list of people to celebrate includes my grandma, the glue of generosity and love that holds my family together; my mother-in-law, who has taken me even closer under her wing since I lost my mom; my motherâ€™s dear friends, who have tried to lessen the pain of not having her around; and my aunt, who upon my insistence can be the grown-up when I fumble through a skinned knee. I applaud my sisters who are mothers, who are both just plain amazing people and are always teaching me new ways to approach motherhood.
There are a lot of other people I want to list, but you get the idea. Motherâ€™s Day is a chance to recognize the hard work of mothering and give a high five to the people whose motherhood you applaud. However it works for you, I hope you have a wonderful Sunday.