He Said / She Said: Our Mothers

Posted on May 10, 2011

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He Said / She Said lets us hear different perspectives on the same topic.  This week:

While this past Sunday was Mother’s Day in the U.S., today (May 10th) is the date on which Mother’s Day is always celebrated in El Salvador.  It’ a big to-do here.  I mean, I know it is in the U.S., too, where brunch spots fill to the brim with family gatherings and Hallmark cashes in.  But it’s an even bigger deal here.  (When I asked why, many Salvadorans suggested that perhaps a tendency for fathers to be out of the picture has led to a greater dedication to mothers, often the sole parental figure.)  Anyway, government employees get two days of vacation just for the occasion!  Several companies host brunches and lunches serving all the employees with special goodies.  Restaurants book up months in advance for the Mother’s Day dinner, all the big stores have huge sales, and pink and red cakes are popping out everywhere.  Basically, it reminds me more of Valentine’s Day, but with all the love aimed at mothers.

Juan and I both lost our mothers as young adults.  So while we won’t be partaking in the ubiquitous brunches, dinners, cakes, or candies, we would like to dedicate this edition of He Said / She Said to remembering our mothers.

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He SaidHE said:

Another mothers day without Mom.  It is interesting how we celebrate Mothers’ Day once a year every year in order to honor and recognize our mothers’ efforts to make good people of us and to thank them for all the pains and headaches that we cause, for all the love, compassion and comprehension that they give us, for all the unconditional life care that they show to us…

All this attention and affection that we receive from our mothers, we need to say thank not only once a year but all year round.

Certainly relations between mom and children are not perfect.  How many times have you guys felt angry against mom because she yelled or punished or corrected us, or because she did not give us what we wanted, or many other reasons?  But the truth is, mom knows best.  All they do, all the suffering, all the joy, it’s because of us, their “children” — because we are always going to be moms’ precious child.

The fact is my friends, that very often we do not realize this when we have our moms around.  We do not value or really appreciate how important we are for them, how much love and knowledge we can get from them, or how much are we going to miss them when they are not there anymore…

So I encourage you all my good fellows, enjoy your moms, learn from them, ask them about their life and feelings, show them that you need them and let them know that they can count on you as well.  Be your mom’s friend. And not only on Mothers’ Day every first Sunday of May or every May the 10th as we celebrate in El Salvador, but try to do it every day.

Greetings for all the mothers. May every day be a moms day now and on.

Love to everyone.

Juan.

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She SaidSHE said:

This is the second Mother’s Day I’ve passed without my mom.  Last year I can’t recall what I did — it’s just blank, was probably a day like any other day.  This year, though — maybe it’s because of all the commercials and hullabaloo, or maybe because as time goes by the grief lessens but the longing and the missing increase — I’m acutely aware of her absence.

Sadness that existed over my mom’s loss has mostly dissipated (though don’t get me wrong, there are still huge pangs of pain sometimes), my longing for a mother’s presence in my life has gotten much stronger.  There’s so much I would like to tell her … Like when a new book about Laura Ingalls Wilder comes out that would have been perfect in her gift shop.  Like the excitement she would have shown about Juan and I opening a cafe.  The advice she would have given me.  The love and friendship I could have shown her.

As I cling to memories of her, trying to incorporate her advice by using her as a model, I find myself becoming more and more like my mother.  All I have of her is what she left inside of me, after all.  So when I bring that out, I bring out the upbringing she instilled in me.  I realize that though I can’t verbally ask her the questions I’d like, I can turn to her own life as an example.  When I do, I begin to see that she has already taught me so many lessons — lessons she lived, lessons that I will probably only begin to understand as I myself enter new stages of life.  As I face decisions she once faced and receive her wisdom by taking cue from her successes and mistakes alike.

My mom’s example inside of me exists not only in profound decisions or life questions, though.  My celebration of Mother’s Day, more than anything, is perhaps in those barely-noticeable patterns that exist tangibly in my everyday life:  the way I wash the dishes.  The absent-mindedness with which I drive my car.  The expressions that surge on my face when I laugh, or the shape of my mouth when I cough.  My tendency to offer critiques and tweaks until my expectations are completely satisfied.  Sitting with my legs folded up under me crosslegged at the dining room table.

Simply by my living and being and doing, my mom really is still present.  Her influence is everywhere: it coats my brothers and myself, it drips from our words and our gestures, our habits and our personalities.  In daily actions, in physical similitudes, in lessons learned from memories, and in knowledge instilled through a mother’s nurture, I see my mom each day and all around.

And that is comforting.  It’s not the same as companionship.  It’s not the same as sharing new experiences.  It’s not the same as being able to ask specific questions and receive specific words of wisdom.  So if you’re lucky enough to still have your mother with you, try to get as close to her as you can.  Take advantage of the opportunity to not only bask in her presence, but to delight her with yours.  Because our moms and their influence are ever-present in our lives, and perhaps the greatest way to show gratitude for this is to increase the exchange by also pouring your life into hers.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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