Giving the Gift of Forgiveness on Mother’s Day
My mom passed away almost 6 years ago, so as you can possibly imagine I’m not a huge fan of mother's day. It’s not as big of a deal to me as it was then, but the emails with adorable sale items to get mom and all the commercial messaging is still a bit annoying.
Now, here’s the really terrible part. I don’t usually feel sad about it - I feel more mad. Actually, I feel really annoyed when I think about it.
So, that’s where I’m at - Mother’s Day doesn’t feel like a celebration of my mom, it actually makes me kind of pissed - AT HER.
I know...that sounds terrible, right?
Let me briefly explain what I’m mad about and how I’m working to evolve it.
The short of the story is that she smoked for most of her life and in the end, soon after she turned 60 years old, her lungs just wouldn’t work any more.
The place that I get stuck in my mind (that I know in my heart isn’t quite right or the whole story) is that she chose cigarettes over me and over her whole family. I just can’t stop my mind from thinking she’d rather have those smokes than to be here with her family today.
But those of you who have loved someone who had an addiction or who couldn’t overcome something within them probably know on some level that this isn’t the whole story.
Here’s what I think is probably true in my mom’s case?
She didn’t have the resources to stop smoking for many reasons that literally have nothing to do with me.
The fact that she didn’t/couldn’t stop smoking doesn’t mean she didn’t / doesn’t love me. (And this one is hard for me to write!)
I can work on how I experience this and work to shift my perspective so I’m not angry and can focus on forgiveness, kindness, and love.
And that last point is really all I can do - the only thing I can control is my work to change my experience and my relationship with my mom right here in my present day.
So, here's how I plan on celebrating my mom and mother’s day (and myself in the process!):
Meditation for forgiveness
Whenever I guide people with the singing bowls to let go of any spaces in the heart that they’ve hardened around from being hurt, I ask them to offer up forgiveness. This opens up the flow of love to and from us when we let go of holding onto hurt.
For now, in this moment, in celebration of my mom, I offer up forgiveness for wherever she was at that time and the choices that she needed to make. This is a process for me to keep growing towards.
2. Meditation for Acceptance
To me, meditation is a practice of acceptance - where the breath is, how the body feels, what’s going on with the thoughts. So, a practice of mindful acceptance for who my mom was, her struggles and sufferings that she went through (just like we all do!), and for all that she was able to do for me (which was legit amazing!) even with these challenges.
(And for myself for being angry, or sad, or whatever I am in that moment!)
3. Correcting Distorted Thinking
I often encourage students to keep a gratitude journal because it’s so easy for us to focus on the negative things and let them take up our energy and the positive things just fall to the side sometimes. Taking my own advice, I’m going to journal about all the wonderful things, sacrifices, and small acts of love and kindness that my mom did for me.
How easy is it to forget or overlook those things when you’re angry that someone didn’t take care of themselves and died because of it?! It makes sense that if I don’t put the beautiful things in the forefront, the last 2 months of her life will have the most impact on my memories and emotions.
4. Help Other Moms
I read an instagram post from @oasispatersonnj this morning “These mother’s must wait in line, in the rain, to make sure their kids eat. Honor your mother: Feed one mother’s child this Mother’s Day.”
Doesn’t that just paint the picture of the love and sacrifice of a mom?
I donated today to @oasispatersonnj in honor of my mom who I know would climb mountains and withstand any weather to get us what we needed.
How are you honoring your mom today? <Whether she’s with you or not. Whether you’re close to her or not. Whether you’re angry, or sad, or happy.>
Embrace who you are and how you can recognize what she’s done for you. I know for myself that part of my process is letting go of my ego and not making it about me and focusing on all the positive ways my mom impacted my life.
Let me know how this resonates with you.