Mothers all

May 11,2009
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath( )

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

My Mother's Day couldn't have started any better than it did--after days of rocky sleep and after hours of instruction by Scott the night before, both kids let me sleep until 8:30. 8:30! This was a wonderful and much-needed change from Saturday morning, when L. woke us up at 5:00 a.m.--worked up we think from anxiety about the babysitter who was coming that morning to watch the kids while Scott and I headed off to our respective college's graduation ceremonies. And a change from this morning, of course, when my alarm went off at 6:20, and I was back to the routine: packing lunches, fixing breakfast, trying to wake up the kids. Sleep is such a simple, such a natural thing, I'll never understand why it's so elusive around here most of the time. It's amazing how much gratitude I can feel for such small things on Mother's Day like extra sleep, extra time to linger over two cups of coffee, not one, extra time in the shower, thirty minutes to finish a book in the hammock, chocolate mousse waiting for dessert later in the day. I always tell Scott he has it easy--I don't need a day at the spa, or an expensive gift. All I usually want on Mother's Day is the gift of time, and the chance to spend the day with the people who make me a happy, proud Mama. and After breakfast and coffee yesterday and the time in the hammock we went to the Farmer's Market. I had lots of time to look around at all the other women--mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, grandaughters, who were weaving in and out of the flower stalls, carrying bouquets of freshly cut flowers, followed by their husbands or other family members bowed dutifully down under the weight of rosebushes and hydrangeas and fruit trees. As I do every Mother's Day I missed my own mom--Mother's Day is always on commencement weekend, and I can never get away, and I thought about her missing her own mother. I thought a lot about women's place in the world--historically and at present--and how rocky the road has been and still is for women to achieve all they dream of achieving. Virginia Woolf often struggled against the "two bodies" she felt women inhabited and she encouraged women to "think back through their mothers" as a way of moving forward, while still holding on to individual definitions of what it means to be female, feminine, and a mother at the same time; they are not contradictions in terms, but they can be difficult to negotiate; just as defining motherhood can be tricky, too. I like what I heard Saturday on our local NPR jazz station. The theme for that hour of the show was--in honor of Sunday, of course--Mother's Day and motherly love. The host talked about his own love for his mother and his wife, but he made a stirring and, I thought, unusual point. He said that we should celebrate all women on Mother's Day, regardless of whether they are mothers or not; that Mother's Day is not just for mothers, but for all women--women who are, after all, the mothers of so much that is right in the world. Mother's Day shouldn't just be a day for brunches and breakfasts-in-bed, but a time to think instead of the far-reaching importance of the women to our worlds (and in our worlds)--individual and universal--whether they be mothers themselves or not. I hope Mother's Day was wonderful for all you brave, amazing, beautiful, women out there. Care to share the scoop on how yours went?