Sunday, May 10, 2015

Guest Column on Mother's Day in the May 10, 2015 Intelligencer

Remember your mom: She's done 'more for you than anyone'

Posted: Sunday, May 10, 2015 12:15 am

By Ruth Z. Deming

Happy Mother’s Day! This holiday was first celebrated by its founder, Anna Jarvis, in 1908 after a vigorous two-year campaign. Her determination illustrates the power of a woman to influence history. Jarvis wrote that your mother “is the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”

Those of us who, like myself, are “baby boomers” (born between 1946 and 1964) are fortunate if we still have our mothers. Sure, we can send our moms greeting cards with preprinted messages on them. But how about writing your own words, thanking her for the special gifts she gave you: “You taught me the importance of writing thank-you notes, of calling sick friends and sharing family photos.”

In our rapidly aging society, replete with dread diseases of memory loss, there is nothing more welcome to your aging mother than your visit to her assisted-living facility. My dear friend Ada Moss Fleisher and her husband Dr. Richard Fleisher make sure that between the two of them they visit Ada’s mom, Lillian, every single day. At 105, Lillian is delighted to see them, as well as her many descendents, as young as 2 years old, who make sure the beloved family matriarch is remembered.

While a personal, thoughtful card is much appreciated, how about giving your mom useful gifts? In your Mother’s Day card, you might say, “Mom, you can expect me to come over once a week to help you clean out a closet.” Or, “I will bring you a meal every single Sunday afternoon.”

If your mother is house-bound, you might offer to “send someone from the nail salon or hair salon to make you look even more beautiful than you already are.”

Positive words are so encouraging to our elderly parents, many of whom have lost their self-esteem as their role in the family has diminished over the years. Once our parents were the centerpiece of the family. Our whole lives revolved around them.

What a special day Mother’s Day is for new mothers. On Facebook, I follow the joys and travails of first-time moms who find solace in the comments of their peers. A friend of mine suggests that new moms, or their grandparents, keep a file of significant events in the baby’s life, including photos, which will be invaluable as they get older. Even though most people pass along many photos with their smart phones, a dedicated photo file may still be warranted.

My friend, Emily, 24, is a member of New Directions, the support group I founded for people and families affected by depression and bipolar disorder. Suffering from bipolar disorder, Emily gave birth to a healthy, beautiful baby girl, Madeleine, last year. A photo of “Madeleine’s Tummy Time” hangs in my office. We at New Directions advocate for having children if you wish. Emily has a devoted team of a psychiatrist, Ob/Gyn, psychotherapist, her husband and friends who form a cheerleading section around her.

She is not the only one from New Directions who is a mother. There are countless numbers of us, who have suffered from a mental illness and can now brag about our children and grandchildren.

In our hurry-up society, it is often difficult to be with an aging person who has a different sense of time than younger people do. My 92-year-old mother, for example, rarely leaves home because of her “bad legs.” But what a mind she has! When I visit, I remind myself, “Be patient!”

Ironically, Anna Jarvis, the originator of Mother’s Day — she copyrighted where the apostrophe goes in “Mother’s Day” as well as its date, the second Sunday in May — tried to revoke the holiday. She was appalled by its commercialization.

Yet Mother’s Day is here to stay. And May is the perfect time, especially after our hard, difficult winter of ice and snow. Flowers are a universal Mother’s Day gift. But how about flowers from our own gardens? How fantastic it would be for moms of all ages to receive the yellow forsythia growing in our backyards, or the early blooming tulips.

Life begins anew in the spring. Mother’s Day is the best confirmation.

Ruth Z. Deming, Willow Grove, is a psychotherapist and founder/director of New Directions Support Group of Abington and Willow Grove. View meeting schedule and special events at Phone 215-659-2366.

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