Before we adopted our first daughter in 2011, we had a five-year journey with infertility. Each of those years I would gear up for Mother’s Day, thinking about how I would handle myself ahead of time. How would I hold my face when I saw those who could celebrate the day, celebrating? Would my longing seep out around my joy for them? A Sunday of awkward jumbled emotions always made me grateful for Monday morning.
As part of my work as a psychologist, I recently assisted with a 6-day grief intensive for 50 parents who have lost children. Honoring their ongoing bond with the children they lost and seeking to know each other’s lost children, this incredible group made it clear that they are still parents and their relationships with their children go on.
Last week, I sent a text video of our daughter’s school concert to her birth mom—she texted back, “She did sooo great; I’m so proud.” It always amazes me that we have this kind of relationship—we rejoice together, grieve, worry, and laugh together. It didn’t happen overnight, we learned slowly to trust each other, and somehow it works.
It is on the heels of these experiences that the idea for a Mother’s Day Manifesto surfaced. I believe in the importance, goodness, and inclusiveness of mothering energy in the world. A plea to “set more places at the table” and celebrate more broadly on Mother’s Day bubbled up…
Mother’s Day Manifesto: A Rallying Cry to Broaden Mother’s Day
We diminish Mother’s Day when we reduce it to a nice brunch and a potted plant for a select few. Through wider lenses, the day could be used to name and honor the impact of mother energy, pulsing through the world in its various forms.
Today is a day for birth mothers, first mothers, adoptive, foster, and surrogate mothers, for step moms and aunties, grandmothers and mothers of choice. It is for mothers who are no longer with us, waiting moms, grieving moms, and yes, even men who put this kind of energy, mothering energy, out into the world.
If you are making yourself vulnerable to another’s journey, accepting that you will likely be bruised and scarred along the way, this day is for you. Like Simeon’s words to Mary, “a sword will pierce your own soul…” Mother in any way and your heart will be broken, as love and suffering abide under one roof. This is a day for those who suffer on account of that love.
For those who have never felt the swelling of their bellies, but know the kicks and stirring of their hearts, ready to give birth. If you cultivate something of goodness, beauty & truth– nurturing, holding, keeping watch at night– this day is for you.
It is for mothers who have suffered the unthinkable, awakening in a world they no longer recognize, finding themselves somehow still here without their child. We see you and recognize that your love for your child goes on. We will not silver-line your loss or look away from your pain. It is an honor to be with you.
And for those who long to be called “mother,” but the years pass by… We stand with you in this desire– your journey matters, your hopes matter. You and your mother energy belong.
It is for moms who are no longer with us; whose voices we would love to hear even one more time. The ones that soothed and sheltered us while also reminding us of who we were and calling us back to courage. For those whose kitchen tables were sanctuaries. Your timeless prayers are still with us and we long to carry your legacy well.
For those who have said “yes” to this sweaty work– learning through sacrifice to make their hands into instruments of nurture. This high, holy, and gritty salt-of-the-earth work. We, the community, are so grateful for your dedication.
And to those who experience mother-bear-anger, courage that would be difficult to summon for self, but comes instinctively for another: we would be lost without your bravery on behalf of the voiceless. We need your passion for justice in the world.
For those who comfort, gather, and feed– providing refuge in an anxious world– you embody “home.” The twinkle in your eye steadies us and helps us to keep going. This is your day.
And so… For all those who have been broken open in the hopes of bringing life–you are seen, you are valued; today we honor you.
– Mary Beth Covert, Mother’s Day 2019