Sunday, May 13, 2007

Walk a mile for Mother's Day

Sometimes we miss the wisdom in cliches because we've heard them so much that we stop listening. Mother's Day is rife with cliches, so today I'm taking a moment to really think about it.

Mother's Day in the U.S. was first proposed as Mother's Day for Peace in 1870 by Julia Ward Howe. This year, I've volunteered for The Mother's Day Project, a project to remind us that war is personal. I've been sent a piece of muslin with the name of Carrie L. French, a 19-year old U.S. soldier who died while serving in Iraq. I will stitch her name, return it, and it will be used to create a tote bag, along with the names of the other 79 women who have died (so far) serving in Iraq. When the bag is complete, each stitcher will get to carry it for a while. We will document our experiences stitching and discussing the bag.

Carrie had graduated from high school just a year before she died, where she was a varsity cheerleader. She joined the National Guard to pay for college.

My own son will graduate from high school June 21 and leave for college in August. After a particularly painful time in our relationship, when I was trying to describe to him how I felt, he said, "I can only imagine what you're going through. I really won't be able to understand it until I become a parent myself." Ah, how true. Reminds me of that cliche about not judging someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes.

Parents, especially mothers, face a lot of judgment in our culture, for all the "mom and apple pie" rhetoric. There is one thing I know about being a parent. I love my kids fiercely and I want the best for them. I imagine that most if not all parents feel the same way. (Yes, I know there are parents who are abusive and downright mean, and I'm not excusing their behavior, but I bet even most of those parents wish they could do better.)

Although I haven't walked a mile in the shoes of Carrie's parents, I will think of them often as I stitch her name. And the next time I think of judging another parent's style, I will remember that they cherish their children as much as I do mine. And that what all of us parents need is more support, not more criticism, as we stumble through, and sometimes soar, in our own parenting journey.

p.s. To my kids, thanks for giving me a reason to celebrate Mother's Day! I love you!

1 comment:

molly said...

Can't wait to see what else you come up with Julie...a great start for a great project for a great year.