Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothers & Families

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Today is Mother's Day in many parts of the world. With a varied history in North America and elsewhere, this day of honour and celebration is observed for various reasons -- familial, political, societal, emotional. It is also celebrated at different times; in fact, July and September seem to be the only months in which it is not celebrated somewhere.

A related holiday called National Family Month is sponsored by KidsPeace, an American "private charity dedicated to serving the behavioral and mental health needs of children, families and communities."  National Family Month is celebrated annually from Mother's Day to Father's Day and "encourages family relationships and focuses on developing healthy, confident kids."

Holidays such as these strike a strange chord within me. They remind me a bit of Valentine's Day, which I wrote about on February 13th and 14th. The concept is great: love and honour the ones around you, and demonstrate your appreciation.

What gives me pause is that the reality on the other 364 days of the year often doesn't match the concept on the one day. Mothers (and non-mothers) are still being beaten, manipulated, raped, marginalized, and descriminated against 365 days a year. Children are getting the same treatment on the same days. Some fathers get the same treatment, as well. Even with so much social programming and nice little holidays, families are in big trouble. Individuals are in big trouble.

However, ranting solves nothing (as satisfying as it can be once in a while). On the other hand, actions -- one person's actions -- can solve something. I can do my own healing and recovery work so that I no longer carry the shame that others shovelled onto me when I was a child. I can accept responsibility for my own choices. I can show kindness to my mother, no matter what happened in the past. I can forgive a father whose harm to me is incalculable...because I have shaped new beliefs about life, relationships and myself. I can honour and enjoy my children, stepchildren, and grandchildren for the worthy beings they are. I can extend a hand to the fathers and mothers I know, especially when they're having tough times.

These actions are the best way I know to truly honour myself and others as mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, children, and so on. Not that a sweet card and a fistful of flowers does any harm. They just mean so much more when they're backed up by action during the rest of the year.

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