From The InnkeepersMay 2022
May 2022 Blog-On Mothering and Memorializing
Like bookends to our days, this month in the calendar finds us celebrating Mother’s Day near the beginning of the month, and then Memorial Day near the end of the month. It begs the questions in my mind about what it means both to mother and to remember, and why these two concepts are so important to our culture that we actually set aside and name days to celebrate them.
Not ever having physically given birth to a child, conceptualizing all that is involved in physically giving birth to, and then caring for someone your whole life admittedly does somewhat elude me. From observations though, it is clear to me that some people are better equipped and more suited to this role than others. But the concept of motherhood should not be limited to the physical aspects of the role or even the psychological ones of a lifetime of nurturing children into adulthood. There are many ways to mother.
We mother whenever we conceive of a new idea or a new project and then set the wheels in motion to bring that to fulfillment. We mother when we nurture someone or something and give them or it a life that they would not have had without us. The quintessential and ongoing mothering for the three of us here at the Inn was to bring the Inn into being. First came the inspiration and then the gestation period which involved property searches, reconstruction, painting and decorating, landscaping, and finally opening our doors and whole heartedly welcoming people not just into the physical structure but also into our lives. We mother every time we become a lifegiving force to someone through an unexpected act of kindness. Sharon, Pat, and I mothered many Ferris State hospitality student interns by giving them a living example of what it means to be hospitable, by feeding them lovingly prepared nutritious food, by providing scholarships, and generally helping to launch them into their careers. So, there are many ways to mother, and no matter how you choose to do so, we take the time to honor that in ourselves and each other this month.
The second holiday, coming at month’s end, is Memorial Day. Originally it was a day set aside to honor our fallen soldiers, and veterans who served in the military, but in recent times the meaning has expanded to remember all those in our lives who have gone before us. There is the annual ritual of visiting the cemeteries where loved ones are buried and to place flowers on their graves and to say prayers of gratitude for all that they have done for us, up to including the giving of their lives so that we may be free. We do so in gratitude for all they have been for us. We need days like this set aside to remember, to keep alive those in our past, to join them to our life in the present, and to help us to imagine and be part of what is yet to come. Memory is like a chain linking together past, present and future.
So, we commemorate and we celebrate. We inhabit our lives through the blessings of memory. We are born from our mother’s wombs a bundle of potential. We honor the possibilities given to us by virtue of our birth, by in turn being a lifegiving force for others.
May it be so for you.