Sunday, May 14, 2017

Unusual Mothers Day Tribute

Mothers Day is one of those holidays that can bring up a wide-range of thoughts and emotions for families. We reflect on life's events and wonder about the "what ifs" when life doesn't match up with our idealization what family life should be like. Television families have played their own part by ingraining into our minds images of the ideal family. The Nelsons and the Cleavers, and then the Bradys and the Huxtables established and then confirmed these idealistic images. Even with the Pritchetts, the Dunphys, and the Pritchett-Tuckers and similar families seeking to shift our imagery, there is still a strong sense of the traditional embedded within the plot.

My family and, if we are truly honest about it, most families do not match those ideal television families. In real life things get complicated, events happen, and, hopefully, we strive to make the best of them. The truth is that these life complications are not anything new. These life complications have occurred in reality LONG before those stereotypical images came into being. Broken and blended families have existed in one form or another since the beginning of time. No family is perfect and it is through those imperfections when real life is truly lived.

I've spent time today celebrating my mother. I took her to dinner. I gave her a gift. This year's celebration may have been less extravagant than other years. It has, however, had it's own unique memory in that the restaurant at which she wanted to eat was the victim of a power outage that hit a small part of Oklahoma City this afternoon--we had to quickly come up with a back up plan (see, living life amidst the imperfections).

In previous years, I've also sent special messages to my aunts and my older sisters to thank them for their mothering influence in my life and/or their own children's lives. There are many "mothers" in our lives and I've often tried to expression a token of appreciation to some of them in some small way over the years.

On my mind several times today has been a mother associated with my life and family who I've never thought to recognize and for some reason God has placed her on my mind today. And this recognition takes me back to those family imperfections discussed above.

My mom is my dad's second wife. Through a series of life events, he and his first wife separated and divorced. This blog post will purposefully avoid the "whys" of those decisions 1) because those events pre-date my birth leaving me without any first-hand knowledge, 2) because there are many first-hand perspectives which bring their own nuanced points-of-view and biases to the story (I feel like I sound like a history teacher trying to remain "politically" neutral), and 3) that's quite simply not the point of this post. My four older sisters do not share the same mother as myself and my younger sister, and I want to share a special Mothers Day tribute to her.

Christina, thank you for raising four daughters who, although technically "half" sisters, have never treated me as if I were anything less than their full brother. In many divided families (I've seen this in the families of friends and my own students), those "fractions" are emphasized and long-term the relationships are strained. Thank you for always making me feel welcomed when I've visited your home. With having nieces and nephews very near my own age, you have always welcomed me to events and parties that happened to be hosted in your home. It would have been easy to have excluded my younger sister and I, but you chose to be inclusive and I'm sure that was not always an easy choice to make. Thank you for being a wonderful grandmother to my 11 nieces and nephews and now to my many great-nieces and great-nephews. They are so blessed to be loved and cared for by so many loving family members. Christina, thank you for the role that you have played in helping to make my sisters and their families as special to me as they are. Happy Mothers Day to you!