Mother’s Day: Reflections on the Journey of Motherhood

Mother’s Day: Reflections on the Journey of Motherhood

Written by Mary Crescenzo

| 4 minutes
Share on linkedin
Share on facebook
Share on twitter

Six months ago, I was bestowed with a new title – the honor of Grandmother.  This new chapter in my life has given me a newfound look at the journey of motherhood – my path, my daughter’s, and the path of my mother who is no longer with us.  This Mother’s Day, my daughter and I shared and celebrated a new bond – what it truly, deeply means to physically and emotionally care for another.   

Soon after my grandson was born, this young woman whom I had diapered countless times was giving me a refresher course in how to change one.  Since a baby boy was on the bassinette table, I had a few excuses for the need to relearn this task that was suddenly foreign to me.  Diapers are different in design than they were years ago, and with a boy on his back I could have a fountain in front of me at any moment!  The day this baby was born was truly a milestone for all of us in the family. 

When a milestone occurs in our lives, whether happy or sad, we pause on our journey and breathe the joy or sorrow that pivotal point of celebration or mourning brings.  In the midst of such times, we may reflect upon the past and consider the future, yet we have no choice but to live in that moment that feels like an instant or a lifetime as we shed our tears of joy or pain.  Births, weddings, anniversaries, holidays, illnesses and deaths are these markers that force us to stop and look around us as well as inside of ourselves.

Living in the moment isn’t easy.  It’s something we have to relearn, unlike babies who are born in the immediacy of their needs and the wonder of their immediate world, albeit for only a short time as time soon becomes a reality in their lives.  As caregivers, we are often too busy, too exhausted, or too focused on anything else but the moment at hand in the care of someone whose time is in our hands.  As caregivers, especially of those with Alzheimer’s/dementia, those we care for teach us without trying, that the present is all we have and memories are gifts or curses that have no service to the moment where they stand.  What matters is where we sit in the present, like each individual pearl on the string of a necklace, delicate, translucent and unique.

In between milestones, in everyday life, it’s easy to wander into the past and try to predict the future.  I look at my daughter, a new mother, and recall when motherhood was new to me.  I gaze into the eyes of my grandchild and wonder how long we will share our lives together.  I think about the day my mother’s dying became a certainty, how I cared for her, and how my daughter will care for me in my last days.  

In May, we find ourselves reflecting upon the life of the woman who brought us into this world, whether in a shared memory with another or in the solitude of our mind.  At this time, our mother may be well, frail, have special needs, living with Alzheimer’s or dementia or simply a profound memory.  On that second Sunday in May, she may be at our side sharing in the joys of the day, or physically or mentally far away.  She may be a missing part of the puzzle of our life, a jagged piece shaped of anger-hurt that demands distance, or one with soft, rounded edges that longs to fit back in place in reconciliation.

We cannot change who allowed us our first breath, but we may change how we view that woman who gave us life.  Some of us have more than enough memories to keep us smiling throughout our lives, others have to search for a time when we felt loved.  In any case, at unexpected moments, we see our moms in ourselves, in the changing shapes of our hands or the timbre of our voices.  If we are looking for perfection, we won’t find it, although we like to hold these women to a high standard.  

For some of us, we are also on the other side of this complicated equation, as mothers ourselves with daughters, sons or both, who love us, judge us and spend many of their moments trying to find their way.  There is nothing like having a child to make us feel mortal – except for the realization when our mothers leave this world and we, at any age, have become the elder.  

At some point in our lives we will look at our mothers in a different way.  Whether our perspective shifts to a newfound gratitude or a newly realized forgiveness, we cannot deny the vestiges of that visceral connection we shared through the umbilical cord that joined us, then sent us on our way. 

How did Mother’s Day come to be? According to Google, “The official Mother’s Day holiday arose in the 1900s in the U.S. as a result of the efforts of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. Following her mother’s 1905 death, she held a small memorial service for her mother on May 12, 1907.  She later conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children.  Soon after, America was observing the day.  In 1914, the U.S. president made it a national holiday, celebrated on the second Sunday of May.”

Each year, as Mother’s Day comes and goes, may we approach our entrance into this world as a gift from one moment in time, and a lesson in caring for ourselves as well as others.  This year, my Mother’s Day held a new kind of celebration for me.  As Nonna, it was a day of wonder, gratitude and greater understanding of the value of each day.  On that day, I wore a string of pearls, mindful to keep my grandson from grabbing and putting it in his mouth while I held him in my arms.  For me, this necklace was a reminder of how we can only live one delicate, translucent and unique day at a time.


Mary is the author of The Planet Alzheimer’s Guide: 8 Ways the Arts Can Transform the Life of Your Loved One and Your Own, a speaker and advocate for arts engagement with persons with Alzheimer’s/dementia, the playwright of Planet A – a play about the inner world of Alzheimer’s, and an AlzAuthors member.

Share on linkedin
Share on LinkedIn
Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter

Share:

Share on linkedin
Share on facebook
Share on twitter