Ah, Mother’s Day. Memories of macaroni necklaces, coupon books for kisses and hugs, making breakfast in bed while mom ‘slept’, bouquets of flowers, and homemade cards. While our gifts and traditions may be different years later, upon closer look, we might find that our approach to the day is largely the same. We buy flowers, thank our moms for being our moms, and call it a day. That’s the point, right?
Let’s do a little exercise. Right now as you’re reading this, acknowledge who you are today- starting just with how old you are. Take stock of where you are in your life- whether you just graduated college, just moved into your own place, started or ended a romantic relationship, recently switched career paths, or whatever else is notable in this chapter of your life. Now, close your eyes and think of your mother at the same age you are now.
Now ask yourself this. How much do you know about that woman?
I’ll let that sink in.
If you’re like me, you might be embarrassed, and even a little shocked at how little you know. The realization came to me recently when I came across a picture of my mom in her late teens that I had never seen before. In looking at her familiar face in clothing and an environment I didn’t recognize, around people I didn’t know, I realized all at once that there was an entire person I’d known my whole life but didn’t know so much about.
Mother’s Day is a beautiful holiday to celebrate the role our mothers have played in our lives, but we do ourselves and our mothers a great disservice when we only view them through the lens of motherhood. They are mothers, but they are also women- women who had entire lives and histories before we were born (and continued having them after the fact!).
Recognizing our mothers as individual people with their own desires and dreams isn’t really on the table when we’re young- it’s not in the consciousness or awareness of developing brains that are just trying to figure life out. Once we’re older, we’re distracted by our own adult challenges and it becomes habit to just continue on in your relationships as you always have. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Instead, use the realization as an opportunity.
This Mother’s Day, let’s take time to celebrate our mothers for the whole women that they are.
Use the day to discover new parts of their identity and learn from them as mentors and friends- women who have gone through their own struggles and who might know a thing or two. There’s a whole world of a person you’re missing out on, otherwise.
Need ideas on how to do it? We’ve got you covered.
First: Block a few hours to spend alone together, uninterrupted.
If you have a larger family or will be with other siblings on Mother’s Day, follow up with a “mother-daughter date.” While sharing experiences with siblings is a joy in its own right, it will be easier to get to know who your mom is as in individual outside of the context of your larger family.
- Try a new activity together. Invite her to try something you love, or do something she loves that you’ve always heard about but never done yourself. Do something you would do with a friend- watch a movie, get a pedicure, go to an estate sale, garden.
- Leave room for spontaneity. If you’re spending an afternoon together, make a general plan of how you will spend your time but leave some breathing room in the agenda (for example, pick a neighborhood for lunch, but not a specific restaurant). The spontaneity creates room to continue getting to know someone, and makes the day more fun.
- Share a meal together one-on-one. When was the last time you shared a meal with your mom, alone? Pick a restaurant where you’ll be able to talk- or better yet, learn to make one of her meals that you love in either of your kitchens.
During your time together, ask her things you don’t know about her. It might feel a little funny at first, but stick with it. You’ll quickly find that conversation will flow to places you didn’t expect, and you’ll be so glad to have asked that first question. Below is a list to get you started.
- What is a memory from your childhood that stands out?
- What was your relationship like with your parents?
- What did you like doing when you were a teenager? What did you get in trouble for?
- What is a perfect afternoon for you?
- What always makes you laugh?
- What is something about your life right now that would have really surprised you 10 years ago?
- What is something you dream about?
Enjoy your date with mama!