Mother’s Day memories – happy or sad – tug at our hearts

May 9, 2021

Mother’s Day is one of those iconic holidays. Sometimes it is observed with joy. Sometimes it is observed with memories. And other times, it is taken with just a spoonful of sadness. It’s still a pause that sheds a bright light, no matter what the circumstances.

One thing you can count on, though, is the ever-changing role and definition of motherhood. Between balancing careers and family, new challenges and opportunities arise and present themselves at every corner.

Today we honor biological mothers, stepmothers, surrogate mothers, in vitro mothers, stay-at-home mothers and those that buy the bacon, bring it home and fry it up in a pan. Anyway, we can all agree it’s a tough job now and in years past. As I recall from my years as a young mother, we had a different type of not-so-high-tech help; it was called a playpen. 

I don’t know how much play went on in this little island, but it certainly met the definition of a pen. It had wood slats all around it, which I understand now are not considered safe, but nothing ever happened on my watch. I believe it eventually went the way of the other low-tech classic, the ironing board.

You could stick the playpen in the corner and accommodate half the building in there. The little ones were happy with a bunch of wooden spoons and a couple of pots and pans. Throw in a cardboard box, and the tykes would be occupied for hours.

This allowed the mother some freedom to perform important household tasks, usually conducted by telephone. They were things like polling your friends and neighbors as to whether to purchase the fake brick contact paper for over the sink in the kitchen or go with the fake picket fence with the trailing ivy. I can tell you, contact paper was very big then.

Many of us remember our mothers as the ones keeping order within the house; it wasn’t just a matter of raising children, who could be managed with just a dose of castor oil. Whatever the problem, even if it wasn’t medical, castor oil mixed with orange juice was the answer. An orderly house was a happy house.

Everyone had their agenda of dealing with the stress of child rearing. I recall the woman next door who had a ritual that involved stripping the wax build-up on the linoleum floor every Friday. She would then apply a fresh layer of wax, so she could repeat the process the following Friday. Even the driveway, patio and garage were waxed. Talk about stress. No corporate board meeting could even come close.

There is no question that mothers are the fabric of our society. Sometimes that relationship never evolves to a child’s satisfaction, or to a mother’s satisfaction. Or it might be that a person’s mother exited the picture very early in a child’s life, whether through illness, choice or even a reason that is unknown to the closest of family.

Still, we are faced with the message of this holiday in May. There is no reason for everyone not to celebrate Mother’s Day. Even if you don’t have children or the above applies, there are answers for the recognition of a mother’s role. Find a replacement mother figure at some point in your life. It might be a teacher you’ve known, a nurse who has been kind, a neighbor who helps out or even someone else’s mother. And who knows, that person might just be looking for that lost child, too. 

I always have great empathy when we don’t fit the pattern for these special holidays. Family relationships are hard enough. Look around and give a flower on this day. Someone will surely need it. Blessings on this recognition. And keep this bright light glowing. Stay safe, and Happy Mother’s Day.


  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

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