For about three years in a row on Mother’s Day I spiraled into sadness because I didn’t hear from my kids. Not a card, a call, an e-mail, or a text. It’s not that we were estranged or they were totally “out of it.” They both lived in other cities, and we communicated fairly frequently throughout the year. But they just never remembered Mother’s Day.
As the day progressed and I didn’t hear anything, I’d keep busy with chores or some project, pretending it didn’t matter. But after dinner, hands in the suds, hot tears would fall into the dishwater, and before I knew it I’d be hosting my own full-blown pity party. It sounds silly in retrospect, but in the middle of those emotions, it felt overpowering.
As the next Mother’s Day approached, I somehow knew it wasn’t right for me to be drawn down into that once-a-year disappointment. So I decided it was time to assert some of that God-given dominion the Bible talks about, and to affirm my identity not as merely a human mother, but as the peaceful, joyous reflection of the infinite Father-Mother God, as Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of The Christian Science Monitor, refers to God. She writes, “Man and woman as coexistent and eternal with God forever reflect, in glorified quality, the infinite Father-Mother God” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 516). I love that. It’s a much sounder basis for appreciating and recognizing what identity relating to motherhood is all about.
So that year I prepared for Mother’s Day in a different way. I dropped all sense of human expectation. Instead, I mentally dropped to my knees and prayed to simply know the Truth – the truth about myself and my children and my right relationship to them. I prayed to see that we were all reflections of divine Love and its care and thoughtfulness – revolving not around each other, but each around the central stillness of the divine Mind. The softest angel thoughts started coming to me. As I got quiet and actually listened, I began to hear their messages.
I realized quite suddenly that Mother’s Day, as a human construct, could have absolutely no bearing on my joy. What happened or didn’t happen, what another person did or did not do on that specific day, could not rob me of my God-given peace. In fact, some greeting-card-designated day could no more keep me from my fullness of joy than a whole gymnasium of parrots could keep me from dancing by mindlessly repeating the words “Don’t dance, don’t dance”! And isn’t that what the world is often saying and doing to what it sees as its poor old collection of mortals? Setting up situations to convince us to believe we can’t, don’t want to, or shouldn’t dance. Trying to tell us we shouldn’t express the joy we feel or live life to the fullest. The human mind has all sorts of reasons why we should be desperately unhappy, especially on a holiday – “No one loves me.” “I’m all alone.” Or this insidious one: “After all I’ve done for them ...”
But here’s the counter fact to all of it: “This is the day the Lord hath made;/ Be glad, give thanks, rejoice” (Laura Lee Randall, “Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 342).
Rejoice! What a beautiful concept. Isn’t that the point of any and every day? In my case it was Mother’s Day that was parading around as my nemesis – my excuse to be miserable. But ultimately I had to recognize I had the right as the loved idea of God to reflect and express joy, love, and peace whatever day of the week, month, or year it was. It was an incredible relief and gave new meaning to Jesus’ words: “[Y]e shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). I really was free.
I still didn’t hear from my kids that Mother’s Day. But it didn’t faze me, because I did get my God-given joy back – my God-derived joy that is not and never has been dependent on persons or what they do on any given day.
I am in charge of my own joy when I remember my true selfhood and identity are derived from divine Love. No person is ever in charge of my joy. That Mother’s Day was a turning point for me. I never again expected anything except peace, joy, and power to greet me on that day.
The next year I did get calls from both of my kids on Mother’s Day – and the next and the next, but I wasn’t waiting for them. I was delighted to hear from them as I always am, but my happiness didn’t depend on it. Not for one second.
It was an important lesson for me that I’ll never forget. If we’re not with the people we love on a particular day for any reason and we feel that pull to feel lonely or sad, it’s so good to remember this: Keep your joy. “[Y]our joy no man taketh from you” (John 16:22). No date on the calendar can take it away from you, either.