I realized with a jolt last week that it was nearly Mother’s Day here in Canada and also in the USA. I certainly can’t say it snuck up on me - April was approximately, oh, 83 days long? that sounds right - but it was still a bit of a surprise. The usual ways that capitalism informs us on how to mark the day (brunch! Hallmark cards! spa days!) aren’t really in the cards for most of us, thanks to the pandemic, shelter-in-place orders, and financial crises. So today I have a few ideas if you’re stumped on what to do this coming Sunday and the comments are open for you to share either what you’ve given or received or considered for this coming Sunday - let’s help each other out a bit, eh?
One quick thing: I always wish that we called this day “Mothering Sunday” like they do in the UK and Ireland. Mother’s Day can be so complicated for so many reasons and the afore-mentioned marketing campaigns rarely make room for the nuances. “Mothering" is a tender word, one that includes more stories, I believe. So many people mother us throughout our lives. In that spirit, let’s simply honour all the ways and means with which we are all mothered, beyond and including biology and choice. You can give these gifts to anyone who has mothered you.
Write a letter.
We have been working through a unit on writing letters with our nine-year-old in homeschool for literacy right now. As part of that work, she’s been writing real letters to us, to her teacher, and notably to her grandparents in Omaha. She sent it in the mail with a stamp and everything. The great delight on both sides of the letter-writing experience was a reminder to me that a simple letter can be such a gift and a keepsake. I have letters I’ve saved for decades in a way I’ve rarely saved an email.
Right now most of our mail slots are stuffed with bills and requests for money and flyers with sales for someday; now imagine a personal letter from someone you love hidden in there. It doesn’t have to be fancy or deep or long, you can simply write a few things you’re grateful you received from the one who mothered you in some way. Put a stamp on it and let it be a gift.
Support mothers in Haiti with Heartline’s Maternity Centre.
Those of you who have been here for a while know my great passion for maternal healthcare as a human rights issue and a matter of justice. I can’t think of a better way to honour those who mother us than by giving to support this remarkable maternity centre in Haiti. Who doesn’t want more justice for Mother’s Day?
As Heartline’s model of care states, we envision a world where all women (regardless of their wealth, privilege, or location) and their children are loved and supported with respectful, high-quality care during pregnancy, childbirth, and early motherhood; where all moms and their babies flourish together for the long-haul; where moms and their children are empowered to change not only their story but the stories of their communities and their nation for good.
The Heartline Maternity Center combats the dismal maternal health reality in Haiti through excellent medical care, health education, nutrition, and compassionate support that effectively reduces the high incidence of maternal and infant mortality and prevents children from becoming orphans.
The Heartline Maternity Center provides expectant mothers in Haiti with a full prenatal program, labour and delivery services with certified midwives and nurses, and a six-month postpartum program of weekly medical care, child development education, and breastfeeding support. One of my favourite things about Heartline is how they are committed to training up and supporting local midwives - the vast majority of their staff from nurses to midwives to support workers are Haitians.
When you make a donation to the Maternity Center, they will send a personalized Mother’s Day ecard to the person you wish to honour. Your thoughtful gift will ensure that Haitian women and babies receive the highly skilled and compassionate care they deserve.
Plan a take-out supper from a local restaurant.
I don’t know about your town but our local restaurants have been deeply impacted by the pandemic. In addition to giving everyone a night off from cooking and clean-up, you can support a small business experiencing financial loss during the pandemic by ordering from a family-owned restaurant. Some places are offering curbside pickup too so you can directly tip the restaurant as well.
If it’s safe to do so and not against your city ordinances, you could even take it out like a picnic. Sit 2m apart in lawn chairs and eat outside.
Take over a chore or task with joy.
Wash and detail their car yourself. Clean a washroom. Volunteer to wash and dry and fold all the laundry in the house. Cut the lawn or plant the garden. Wash the front windows. Find something to do to reduce their physical workload and stress but don’t make a big deal of it, just tackle it.
If you are looking to do this for someone who still has small kids or is experiencing physical challenges right now, this could be a game-changer.
Read something good together.
Call up your local bookshop and order two copies of a new book, one to give and one to keep so you can read together. Drop it off with a bouquet of flowers and make a date to talk on the phone or FaceTime once a week for a few weeks to chat about the book together. Make a cup of coffee and show up. The ongoing promise of conversation and time together during these days will likely end up being the best part of that gift.
I wouldn’t be any use as an author if I didn’t at least mention my latest book, Miracles and Other Reasonable Things as a candidate for that gift. After all, I just checked and we’re nearly at 200 Amazon reviews and it’s still holding with 5 stars from readers so that’s something, right?
This particular book is very dear to my heart and I have loved hearing your stories of how it has intersected with your lives, too. Thank you for that! It weaves together spirituality, scripture, and story to tell the story of wrestling with God and learning to find miracles in unexpected places, which would be a wonderful conversation starter. It’s an invitation to a path of knowing God that is filled with ordinary miracles, hope in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, meeting the Pope in Rome (it’s complicated), a visit to Prince Edward Island, a car accident, and other completely reasonable things. And there is even a chapter about letting God mother us.
Here’s the link for more information on all three of my books. Maybe your mama is more of Jesus Feminist kind of soul or is in the midst of a faith shift and so Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith may be a better fit right now.
Your turn! What are some simple ways you are choosing to celebrate the ones who have mothered you this coming Sunday?
P.S. Subscribers, I’ll see you here again in a few days with our what-are-you-reading conversation, some links to Good Things, and an exclusive essay. Thanks again for your support!
And in case you missed it
Love This in Particular - an essay for the global panedemic
Book Club Discussion Portal: Defiant by Kelley Nikondeha - for subscribers
A Community Conversation: Good Words for Hard Times - for subscribers
And for something completely ridiculous and particular: A Schitt’s Creek Benediction
Our Easter Series on the I AM Statements of Jesus
I AM the Light of the World - for subscribers
I AM the Bread of Life - for subscribers
I AM the Gate - for subscribers
I AM the Good Shepherd - for subscribers
I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life. - for subscribers
I AM the True Vine. - for subscribers
I AM who I AM. - for subscribers
Photo of my book courtesy of Retrospect Photography in Saskatoon.