A Mother’s Day Gift from the Garden of Dreams

Appeared on Viriditas, Mother’s Day, 2013

For the past century, the greatest gift that mothers have been giving their daughters is their dreams. Each generation has opened up new opportunities for the next and given their daughters the courage and confidence to make the most of them. If we think of what life in 1913 was like — when women could not vote or pursue most careers, domestic violence was to be suffered silently, constant child-bearing was expected, and women’s lives were repressed in so many ways — we understand how much each generation received from their mothers and then passed on to their own daughters.

Dreams are like spirits, like living beings who thrive on being shared and loved. We have been given so much by our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers, for Mother’s Day. Can we close the circle by giving their dreams back to them? If you are lucky enough to have your mother and even grandmothers still living, can you find a way to honor their unrealized dreams? If your mother always wanted to be a published author, can you perhaps self-publish some of her work and make her a gift of the book? If she wanted to travel to someplace, but she is now no longer able to go far from home, can you take her to a cultural evening of song and dance or make her a Mother’s Day meal from her favorite destination?

For those of us who have lost our mothers and grandmothers, we can still give them a gift by living out their dream for them in a way that would have made them proud. My friend Diane Saarinen recently realized that her career providing marketing and publicity to renowned authors through the Saima Agency (link-http://www.saimaagency.com ) brought her into the same kinds of luxurious Manhattan apartment buildings as a guest that her mother had once worked in as a housekeeper. Now when she walks into one of those buildings, she knows she is honoring her mother and all she was able to accomplish in providing for her family by all those years of labor. Diane also named the agency after her mother, whose first name was Saima.

For me, I have just recently realized that both my mother and grandmother were warriors. My grandmother, for example, fought for her own and her family’s survival during the Great Depression when the family was virtually homeless, and was always very clear about making her opinions known. My mother was also a fighter as an avid supporter of social justice causes and signed up for a 30-year stint in the Navy as a nurse at a time when girls from her community stayed home and taught Sunday School. Perhaps for Mother’s Day I can find a way to “fight the good fight” for some cause for which they would have championed were they still with me on Earth.

Still, perhaps the greatest gift we can give our mothers, whether they are still with us or not, is to do something positive to make our own dreams come true. As a mother myself, I know that nothing is dearer to my heart than having my own child follow his brightest star. For Mother’s Day, can you choose the dream you have always had but that you perhaps never told anyone because you thought it was too outrageous? If you have always wanted to sing before an audience but cannot really carry a tune, can you start voice lessons so you can join an amateur chorus? If you have always wanted to paint but did not think you had the time or ability, maybe Mother’s Day is a good day to go out and buy a paint set.

And once you have made headway towards that task, how about doing something to improve the lives of the women who will come after us all? I saw in my own mother and grandmothers how their sights turned to future generations from all over the country and world once their own offspring were out on their own. Is there a cause dear to your mother’s heart that you can spend time benefitting together on Mother’s Day? If you have lost your mother, what ways did she make life better for those who came after her that you can continue, if even for just one day? Having grown up in a segregated community, my mother was an avid supporter of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Maybe for Mother’s Day I can contribute or find another social justice organization in my own community that could use a day of service.

Mother’s Day is a time to honor our mothers and grandmothers in ways that go beyond flowers and cards. For those of us who honor divinities expressing the Great Mother whose compassion and hope for all beings is infinite, making dreams burst into bloom like roses on a rosebush for those in generations past, present, and future is a sacred act. This Mother’s Day, give the gift of a bouquet from the Garden of Dreams, a mother’s paradise.

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