Mother's Day graphic by Deposit Photo

Finding peace this Mother’s Day despite the differences

By Tracy Simmons

My mom’s birthday and Mother’s Day are only about a week apart. I used to love the challenge of finding creative ways to celebrate both events.

One year, while she was asleep, I plastered the living room with homemade signs that only a mother could love. A few years later, when we both had cellphones, I called her every five minutes on the dot to wish her a happy day. Another time, when I was grown and living in another state, I found out where she was celebrating with some friends and had the server send margaritas to the table.

I think of her this time of year and miss the laughs we had, even though our fights and disagreements seem far more fresh in my memory.

The majority of my friends are moms and probably have Mother’s Day flowers on the table or leftovers in the fridge from a Mother’s Day brunch.

For the past several years now I’ve given my mom what she’s requested. I know it was as difficult for her to ask as it for me to abide – and that is to stay out of her life until we can find a way to agree theologically. I fear that will never happen.

As a religion reporter, I understand the importance of faith in people’s lives. I get what it means to be devout and I respect the act of making a sacrifice for one’s beliefs. That’s what my mom is doing and I’m trying to find compassion for her viewpoint.

I’m also saddened because I managed to escape her faith group and know firsthand that women’s voices are silenced where she worships. Her “choice” to separate from me wasn’t hers, but a mandate from the male leaders in her life.

Although I’m trying to find empathy, and maybe even appreciation for my mom’s faithfulness, as a daughter it seems impossible at times.

To my friends who are parents, motherhood or fatherhood seems like the greatest gift. The love they have for their child is clearly unconditional and I can’t fathom anything in the world that would prompt them to walk away. They don’t seem to believe in a God that would ask them to do so.

I want to grab my mom by the arms and shake her blinders off, so she can see me again. I want to steal her away from those men and get her help so she can heal from years of spiritual abuse. I want to go back in time and redirect her path. But all I can do is, with grace, accept the situation we’ve come to find ourselves in.

Buddhism teaches us to look at every sentient being as if they were our mother. The idea is that if we look at everyone that way, as if every person was once someone who cared for and nurtured us when we were young, then we would look upon every person in this world with kindness.

I used to struggle with that teaching. If I saw my mom in everyone, wouldn’t I see rejection everywhere? Wouldn’t I become filled with frustration and want to shake everyone out of it? I needed to see the world that way for a bit, to feel the pain of a broken relationship, so I could work toward restoration.

It’s taken a lot of work. On this Mother’s Day, though, I was finally in a healthy enough place, spiritually, to think of my mom with fondness. It’s a gift for both of us, even if she’ll never know.

About Tracy Simmons

Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. She serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She is also a Scholarly Assistant Professor at Washington State University.

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