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The Reality of Mother’s Day

Good News and Good People: A weekly column by Local Pulse Lifestyle Editor, Dana Hairston Hof.

The author holding her son who was hospitalized after an accident while vacationing out of state.

I’m a little late on my column this week, mainly because I was doing the thing we’ll celebrate this weekend: motherhood. 

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I know this is a hard holiday for some. Heck, holidays in general can be hard for a lot of people. That one cousin that nobody knows what to do about always shows up doing the thing that makes him that cousin. 

Maybe some people have an ideal life and a perfect Mama, but the truth is that most of us are a hot mess. Facebook won’t tell you that and the pictures on Instagram would have you believe that life is beautiful, without flaws…all the time. 

Nobody wants to keep or display a record of little Petunia the Peach hurling a white patent Mary Jane at her beloved mother’s head an hour before Sunday school commenced. But behind closed doors all over town, mothers navigate all sorts of hostage negotiations, medical emergencies, spiritual transformations, and carpool duties. 

And as a mother who is simply trying to do the best she can, I can assure you this: about half of it we are making up as we go. 

The commercialism of Mother’s Day is filled with beautiful moments and pink roses, but the reality of Motherhood is altogether different and varied. 

I saw a thread last week that nearly broke my heart. A person in my friend list on Facebook began discussing the enormous weight of this holiday and in short order, many of her friends replied in kind with their own reasons as to why Mother’s Day is so difficult. 

The explanations varied from not being able to have biological children to child loss to relating to their own mother, who struggled or still struggles with being a good one. “Good one,” being a relative term.

I have also seen beautiful stories of forgiveness and redemption with biological mothers, grandmothers serving as the primary mother of their grandchildren, adoption, step-parenting, being a mother to animals, and simply being a good friend in a way that possesses the nurturing and caretaking of a mother. 

Motherhood in all its forms isn’t for couch fainters. It takes a backbone of steel to grow another person. It is one of the most contradictory experiences of existence. Motherhood can be life-giving and painful, it is depleting and rewarding, full of love and rarely absent of grief. 

A friend of mine said she thinks that one of the hardest things to move through is a wound created in the parent-child relationship. If you’re struggling with that this weekend, just know that I see you and I hope someday you find peace and healing. 

On the daughter side, I have been blessed with a mother and a grandmother who both did their very best to teach me and love me and I am lucky to still have them both.

As a mother of three, I am in the throes of parenting and just pray that through it all they will know that there has been no greater honor in my life than to love them and hopefully impart some level of instruction that will help them along their way. I have made mistakes and I pray the love I have for them may fuel their grace for me in return someday.

For the mothers who gave away and the ones who received – we celebrate you. 

For the mothers who are living and are departed – we celebrate you. 

For the mothers who try their hardest – we celebrate you. 

For the mothers who get it right and the ones who get it wrong – we celebrate you.

For the mothers in hospital rooms all over this country – we pray for you.

For the mothers of teenagers who are certain they no longer need your instruction and may or may not have been caught by their own mother buying a soda at the Circle K in the middle of the school day when they are supposed to be in the schoolhouse – we pray for me, I mean you. 

And for the mothers who have been devastated by the greatest loss – we celebrate you, we pray for you, and especially this weekend – we honor every, single second of your being a mother, which you will always be.

And to those who are really great at being mothers, thank you for lighting the path. Thank you for your day-in-day-out sacrificial love. Thank you for giving your bodies, your sanity, your service, and your smile. Thank you for taking the heel end of the bread loaf and always being there. 

You are the only reason this world hasn’t fallen completely apart. 

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Dana is an Arkansas native and a seasonal resident of the Gulf Coast since childhood. She was a Pensacola resident for 13 years, before moving to Gulf Breeze. Dana attributes her Mayberry-esque childhood in Warren, Arkansas, as enormously influential in honing her definitely Southern style of storytelling. She earned a degree in Journalism, Advertising/Public Relations from the University of Arkansas (Woo Pig Sooie!). In addition to writing, she loves photography, art, adventures in the great outdoors, and spending time with her three children.