By: Maralee McKee, Manners Mentor
Mother’s Day is one that brings up different emotions for us depending on our situation and stage in life.
This weekend I’ll be with my mom enjoying the fifteenth anniversary of our mother-daughter tradition.
The day before Mother’s Day, we celebrate together at our favorite tea room, The Windsor Rose, in the quaint town of Mt. Dora, FL, about an hour from my home in Orlando. When we began, Marc, my oldest, was two years old. The afternoon spent away from home gifted me with a fantastic break as well as a special time with my mom.
When Marc was five, several days before the tea, as he overheard me talking about it, he looked up at me with his melt-my-mama-heart blue-grey eyes and asked, “Mommy, can I please come!”
My first thought, to be honest, was not a singsongy, happy yes.
It was more of a silent, unapologetic, not-for-a-million-dollars-am-I-putting-you-in-the-car-and-taking-you-with-me gut reaction.
However, what I said was, “Honey, this is my special time to be with Nana. It’s a tradition. She’s my mom and the two of us want to celebrate Mother’s Day together. Besides, it’s really girly in the tea room, and I don’t think you’ll like the food.”
He continued to gaze at me in that beguiling, innocent way only a child can. He twitched his nose upward in thought and said, “But you’re my mom, and I want to celebrate you. I should be there.”
My next words: “Let’s go to the mall! A new tradition deserves a new shirt!”
Years later when my youngest, Corbett, turned four, he joined us. Several years ago, Kent, my husband, celebrated his inaugural afternoon tea.
Now, it’s their presence at tea that has become my Mother’s Day gift. There’s nothing else I want.
As I’m typing this, I just realized that next year perhaps will be Marc’s last year. He graduates high school next May and leaves for college in the fall. Soon there will be an empty seat at the table.
My mother is 85 and in perfect health, but still, I count the years. How many more of these teas will she and I share together?
The Sadness of a Happy Day
Since becoming a mom, my Mother’s Days have been happy ones.
For a lot of women, it’s not that way.
Some mourn the passing of their moms so much that there is no joy in the day.
Some cringe at the thought of their mom due to deep hurt and anger caused by neglect, abuse, a rift, or some other open wound.
Some are trying so hard to become a mom, but so far nothing has worked. They worry no one will ever call them “Mommy” and wonder why having a baby comes so easily for billions but not for them. They’d be great moms. Why is motherhood being kept from them? The day magnifies their pain. I understand. I was one of those women for ten and a half years.
There are moms who feel suffocated by grief over the death of a child. Mother’s Day brings to them a haunting mix of dream-like memories and intense sadness.
For these women, this card-giving, breakfast-in-bed, flower- and gift-filled celebration makes their hearts ache, not dance.
Miscarriage, Miracles, and Mother’s Day
After a decade of trying to conceive, I was finally expecting. Just three weeks before Mother’s Day, I suffered a sudden, painful, and medically complicated miscarriage.
Mother’s Day was my first day back at church.
When I entered the sanctuary, a sweet, elderly usher carrying a basket of carnations greeted me. He held out a flower and innocently beamed, “Happy Mother’s Day pretty lady! This is for you because of all you do as a mom!”
In a sudden daze I accepted the flower and said thank you.
I took three steps, and tears started to flow. Within ten steps, I was sobbing. I ran to the bathroom and doubled over.
Kent knocked on the door. “Man entering. Is there anyone in here?”
“Just me,” I managed to say between a dam-break of tears.
He opened the door, picked me up off the floor, took me by the hand, and guided me into the car.
Thirteen months later, I held Marc as a newborn while he was dedicated at church.
I suffered another miscarriage before Corbett was dedicated six years later.
I’m a mom of four. Two I will meet in Heaven. Two I watch grow daily in the here-and-now.
Miracles and sadness co-mingle in all our lives. Yet the fact that there are miracles means to never stop praying for yours, whatever it is.
A Balancing Act
If you’re a mom, celebrate. Rest. Soak up the specialness of the day. If you’re in a sad place, that’s OK, too.
What we want to make sure not to do is to allow our place to dismiss the joy or the pain of someone.
Or for our joy or pain to be used to try and make the other person feel differently about the day. Each of us should be sensitive to the stages of others.
Mother’s Day Manners — for Moms and Others
With that in mind, here’s a list of the top manners (best practices for handling things) for moms and others on Mother’s Day.
1. Flowers at churches are for every female 18 and older whether you’re a mom or not.
The flowers churches give out (traditionally carnations) are not meant to celebrate you. They are meant to acknowledge YOUR mom. Everyone has someone who gave birth to them; therefore, every woman should accept a flower.
Grace note: Carnations are the traditional flower of Mother’s Day because they were the favorite flower of Ann Reeves Jarvis. Ann was the mother of the woman who made it her life’s work for Mother’s Day to become a national holiday.
2. Strained relationships
If you have a strained or even no relationship with your mom, you can still accept a flower to celebrate the role moms play in society.
3. The meanings of white and pink carnations
Traditionally, white carnations symbolize that your mom is deceased. Pink carnations symbolize that she is living. Today, for simplicity’s sake, most churches offer just one color. There’s no need to add symbolism to the color of the flower. Just take whatever color is offered.
4. If you receive a corsage
Corsages are no longer popular. That’s sad, because flowers are still as beautiful today as ever. If I were you, I’d get one for your Mom. If we all do, they’ll come back into fashion!
When wearing one, it’s worn on your left side over your heart. You no longer wear it on one side if your mom is living and on another if she’s deceased. The flower points up and the stem points down, just like the flower grows in nature.
Unlike prom flowers, they don’t need to match or coordinate with your outfit. Regardless of the color (just like all those macaroni necklaces that didn’t match your outfit!), wear your corsage with pride and love. Besides, flowers match everything!
And yes, you can wear your corsage the next day to work or while you’re out and about. There’s no sense letting pretty flowers go to waste. After you wear it, you can also take it apart and arrange it in a bowl or vase for displaying at home or work.
5. If you know this is a hard day for certain friends or family members
Call up your friends or family members to tell them that you’re thinking of them today. You don’t need to mention the exact reason for their sadness (“I know you can’t have children and this is a hard day for you.” or “I know that this is a horrible day for you because you must be thinking about how much you miss your daughter since her death in January.”). The other person(s) already know why today is hard. It’s just nice to hear that someone loves them and is thinking about them.
However, if they start to talk about their feelings, be a listening ear. Don’t be scared off by sadness or their possible tears. If you didn’t mention the situation specifically, you didn’t cause the tears. You’ve been sent to listen, to lean in, and to say: “I wish I could make it better for you. I wish I could change all the circumstances. You know I would. What I can do is love you, and I do!”
6. Don’t use Text, email, or social media as your main way of communicating.
Make sure that before Mother’s Day ends, you call your mom. Even if you only get her voice mail, she wants to hear your voice. Sure, you can text her, you can email her, you can blast your love for her all over social media, but in that mix, you gotta call her, too! She’ll remember your conversation and the sound of your voice longgggg after your wishes have vanished from her Twitter feed or dropped far down on her Facebook wall.
7. Make some plans.
If you are going to be celebrating your Mom (or your wife), she’ll appreciate that you put forethought into it.
It’s fine and kind to ask what she’d like to do. Better yet is to say, “Mom, if there’s something special you’d like to do for Mother’s Day, that’s what we’ll do! I have been thinking about you, and I have an idea I thought you might like. Would you like to hear it?”
Your chances are 99.9 out of 100 that she’s going to love hearing what you came up with. Planning shows you have been thinking about her, and who doesn’t like to be thought of?
Stuck about what gift to get your Mom this year? I created this post to help: Mother’s Day Gift Guide and What Mom Really Wants. I curated the items and made sure they were Amazon Prime Eligible for fast delivery. The post also shares the etiquette of what makes the BEST gift for your Mom or the mom figure in your life.
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Until next time, keep giving the world the gift you were born to give…you at your best!
XOXO and Blessings,