My Outlook

A soggy picnic not so bad

            We packed a picnic basket and headed out, highly anticipating the surprise we had planned for our mom. It was July of last year and she was flying into Edmonton from Abbotsford to attend a family reunion. My sister and I headed to Alberta to pick her up and spend a couple of days touring the area where we used to live.

            It was supposed to start with supper at a picnic spot we enjoyed when my sister and I were little. However, a delayed flight and then a turn in the weather meant we pulled into the park later than we had planned, and amidst a heavy downpour. Sitting in the picnic shelter as the rain pelted the area was less a journey in nostalgia and more an exercise in controlling the shivering.

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            Sometimes things just don't go as planned. Whatever the reason, the reality ends up being different than the picture we had in our mind. This is the experience of many who had been busy planning graduation ceremonies, proms and weddings until restrictions brought those plans to a halt or required creative adjustments and the recognition that it isn’t going to be what they thought.

            Of course that extends to Mother’s Day, as families everywhere find themselves preparing for a very different day than they could have imagined. A survey of 8, 294 adults conducted between April 1-6 found that people feel Mother’s Day is even more important this year and are determined to do something special from a distance, on average spending more this year than last.Analysts say what is driving the increase is that the gifts of choice are higher ticket items such as electronics, restaurant gift cards, and grocery deliveries; while housewares and gardening tools are also popular since they are gifts that can be put to good use at home.

It will certainly be a different day than many moms are used to, but then again a lot of women experience a very different Mother’s Day than the fancy cards and beautiful bouquets suggest. The day doesn't look like the image many have in mind. Not just this year—but every year.

There are women whose role and hopes look different than when they first anticipated becoming a mom. Physical or emotional complexities are part of a parenting picture they did not expect. Mothers raising children who will always require full-time care. Mothers who have sat by their child's hospital bedside willing recovery to come. Mothers who have walked their young adult into an addictions center seeking help. Mothers whose visits are limited by the boundaries established by agencies, or ones that take place separated by glass. Mothers who have stood graveside doing the unimaginable.

Or consider the families navigating a day set aside for a mother who no longer remembers them. A mother who can't call them by name or recall the memories her offspring would love nothing more than to share again. Or mothers who for whatever reason are unable to fulfill their role, resulting in painful outcomes they and their children alone understand. Or women whose dreams for a child never came to be. For all of these, the expression of motherhood and Mother’s Day is different than expected, but they have sought to do the best they can in situations others have little frame of reference.

            Our less than stellar picnic with our mom last summer was simply a funny turn of events. Far more significant is the way we thought we would be spending Mother's Day 2020. When those plans were set in motion we never could have anticipated the situation we now find ourselves in.

            If you are sad that you need to wave at your mom through a window this year or if your heart is breaking because your only option is a video chat, there is something precious to hold on to. That sadness--that heartbreak--is being driven by something of tremendous value--a relationship with your mom. Which in the end is something that should be celebrated any way we can every day of the year. That's my outlook.

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