“I don’t believe in mother’s day.” “I do believe in mother’s day.” These two phrases bounce back and forth in my mind every year. On the one hand, how could we possibly limit our love, admiration, and appreciation of our mothers to a single day? “It’s definitely a mistake,” I think to myself. “Every day is mother’s day.” On the other hand, if we don’t make a point to intentionally and fully express our gratitude to our mother’s at least once a year, we run the risk of forgetting to appreciate one of the most fundamental truths about our lives; namely, that we only exist because of our mother’s. This is exactly what President Woodrow Wilson was thinking when he officially proclaimed the first national mother’s day in 1914.
In the Torah tradition, mother’s represent the presence of God in our lives; literally giving birth to our reality, our mother is our creator. As babies and young children, our mothers are our sustainers, and throughout our entire lives, our mothers are watching us, sending blessings our way, caring about our every move.
For those of us who grieve mother’s day having had an absent or even negative experience with our mom’s, I suggest channeling the focus of this article onto the loving presence of God in your life. Whether you call this presence God, the Universe, Mother Nature, or something else, this is a wonderful opportunity to be present in and grateful for the life you have. You have already won the cosmic lottery of being born, having been sustained and nourished, and are given new opportunities for joy, growth, and adventure every day.
On a typical morning we open our eyes to find ourselves with the gift of a new day ahead. It doesn’t matter where you are or what time it is, there is a fresh start and a world of opportunities waiting for you. But where were we the very first time we opened up our eyes? Who was staring back into ours? We were with our mothers.
But that’s not the first time we met. No, we spent many months together before this whole thing called life started. We all spend the first nine months of our human experience in utero connecting to and being carried and nurtured by our mothers. Then in one miraculous moment, there were two. Crying, sometimes laughing, and some relief fills the room.
This magical experience is immediately followed by years of motherly sacrifice, love, and dedication to ensuring we survive our childhoods – hopefully not too broken and bruised. We spend our lives creating and chasing dreams, actualizing our potential in this world, and working on building a fulfilling life. All the while, though, maybe not fully recognizing what dreams or aspirations may have been sidelined or detoured so that yours could be a reality. Very often, mom takes a backseat in her desires so that we could run after ours.
It is not just the nine months (much of which was while feeling sick, tired, emotionally drained, frustrated, and physically uncomfortable) or the painful reality of childbirth and recovery. It is a lifetime of dedicated thoughts, worries, joys, and pains that carries us through our lives. Whether we are conscious of it or not, we are being carried long after we’ve moved out of the house. Mom is our first teacher, our first friend, and first love. Often, in the middle of the night when my two year old wakes up and my wife gently urges me to get up and check on him, when I get there, his response is “Mommy. Not you.”
It’s only through the eyes of a child that we could consider having a mother’s day, because to mothers, every day is truly mother’s day. My mother always says “God wants more for you than you could ever want for yourself.” Today I realize that she can say it with so much conviction because she herself feels the same way.
Whether we are feeling grateful to our mother’s or our Creator, this is one favor you can’t return, but you can always remember. We can seize the opportunity to not only think about how great our mothers have been when we noticed, but consider the great investment into our lives, some of which we may not even be aware of. How many lonely nights, worried afternoons, and early mornings did it take? The many months she was sick in bed during pregnancy, and the fact that even as you’re reading this, somewhere in her consciousness she’s thinking of you too.
On a typical morning, we wake up with a whole reality waiting for us. Before the day passes us by, pick up the phone or say a silent prayer letting her know how much you appreciate the greatest gift you could ever receive. It matters less what you say and more what you feel while you’re saying it, like I describe in my new book It’s All The Same To Me, “It’s better to have a heart without the right words than to have words without the right heart.” This year, as we take a moment to appreciate the gift of life we were given, let us start by recognizing our mothers’ life it took to make it happen.
About the Writer
Moshe Gersht is the author of the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling book It’s All the Same to Me: A Torah Guide to Inner Peace and Love of Life. After performing for nearly a decade as a popular Los Angeles–based musician, Gersht moved to Jerusalem, where he has spent the last fifteen years immersed in the wellsprings of Talmud, Chassidus, Kabbalah, and Spirituality. He has devoted his life to seamlessly bridging the worlds of the Torah tradition, mystical wisdom, the true nature of the human mind, and our collective struggles.