Mothers’ Day: the Mundane, the Messy and the Miracles


Mothers’ Day: the Mundane, the Messy and the Miracles

by Rev. “Twinkle” Marie Manning

As with most holidays, 

secular or spiritual, 

the modern-day incarnation 

and inclination – 

results in its facets of consumerism. 

Mother’s Day is no exception, 

and, for example, 

during non-pandemic periods, 

is well known to be 

the busiest day for restaurants. 

Followed by Valentine’s Day 

and Father’s Day in third place. 

(Sorry Dads) 

While we think of Mother’s Day 

in terms of the United States, 

beginning as a call to peace 

by Julie Ward Howe 

and transforming over the decades 

through the efforts of many women 

to a day carved into our national calendar, 

the Origins of this day dedicated to Mothers, 

as all holidays tend to

has its roots in ancient times.

The Spiritual Origins 

of honoring Femininity 

and particularly 

the creative aspects of Motherhood 

can be traced back in many directions. 

Esoteric, Pagan and Christian traditions, 

and traditions antecedent them

had established practices and rites 

in tribute to the fertility of women.

In the 17th Century 

for our Anglo-European ancestors 

it was decreed as “Mothering Day” 

  • in honor of the Virgin Mary, 


yet also with particular compassion 

towards the working class mothers of the day.

Prior to that, 

Ancient Asian, Egyptian, Greek 

and Roman cultures 

had joyous and lengthy festivals 

to celebrate the Great Mother, 

the Mother of the Gods. 

Virtually every Continent’s first peoples 

have assigned priority, 

even veneration, 

to aspects of Mother Goddesses, 

and to Women as vessels of reproduction 

as emulations of the Creatrix, 

Mother Earth herself, 

and as such 

sacred and powerful 

in their own right. 

The symbolism of which 

trickling down 

and carried forth 

through generations.

Scholars have long drawn similarities 

between the Mother and Son imagery  

of Mother Mary holding baby Jesus,

 to that of the Egyptian Goddess Isis 

and her son Horus 

— in which Isis cradles and nurses her son.

Mother as Primordial Nurturer. 

Celebrated as such 

throughout recorded time. 

For her benevolence 

and perfection.


The sermon I wish I could give 

paints motherhood and mothering 

and being mothered 

with the self same fairy tale wands 

that, for better AND for worse, 

from as far back 

to the storytellers of antiquity, 

to modern day filmmakers and television producers, 

who use their magicks 

to portray mothers and being mothered 

as idyllic, laudable, loving and lovable, 

always resilient, and reasonable, 

capable and strong, 

affectionate, compassionate, playful, intelligent 

and available 

{{Mentally, emotionally and physically}}

Hollywood through the years 

has provided us with 

ample champion examples 

of such high achieving mothers:

June Cleaver

Marion Cunningham

Louise Jefferson

Claire Huxtable

Vivian Banks

Their families were loved by them, 

and they by their families. 

Their homes were always camera-ready, 

as was their hair, and make-up, and so on. 

They were supporting 

and had support systems.

As did the Single Moms of TV Land:

Shirley Partridge


Murphy Brown

with their busy schedules, 

juggled both motherhood 

and career aspirations, 

providing for their children’s needs 

-financially and emotionally-

in equivalent proportions.

Who triumph through every adversity, 

with humor and wit 

– and, mostly with their wits about them.

Blended Families as

Carol Brady’s

modeled gentle and seamless transitions 

from one family system to another. 

Where the children were cared for 

and knew they were loved.

And those who raise children 

as if they were their own 

as Alice Baker 

to complete the Brady Bunch clan 

of yonder years.

Many of us were raised 

on these iconic images 

of motherhood and mothering. 

Raised often with the double-bind 

creating such longing 

when what we saw on the screen 

was in stark contrast to 

what we experienced in our homes.

Modern Day shows perhaps offer 

more nuance to 

what motherhood can look like. 

And does. 

As well as family structures evolving natures.

Connecting on a broader base 

for those who have not experienced 

the ideal they would have wished for. 

Certainly the ideals put forth 

by many a storyteller.

Even so, dreams, for some, come true.

Real Life fairytales can and do exist.

Like JK Rowling 

– single mother. 

Rags to riches story. 

Lives in a castle-like home. 

Doing work she loves. 

Loved and adored by literally millions 

of children around the world.


I for one am grateful for her 

and for both 

real and fictional fairytales.

For they serve to remind us 

of the bar we wish to reach.

And these do exist.

And I applaud them.

And they are blessed 

and may they continue to bless us 

with their stories 

that we turn into myths.

May we thank them 

for their examples of what can be.

And, may we forgive them 

(and us) 

when we fall short 

of these ideals.

We often place mothers 

on pedestals too high 

and too rickety 

to hold the weight of womanhood, 

let alone motherhood.

Our expectations for our mothers 

(and for ourselves as mothers) 

are often unrealistic.

Real life challenges, 

and systems that are in place, 

prevent mothers 

from being able to approach 

what many imagine mothering to be. 

We place motherhood 

as if it were in a vacuum, 

not impacted 

nor affected 

by anything that preceded it, 

nor anything that occurred 

when one’s title of Woman 

shifted to that of Mother. 

Somehow “Mother” is, 

in the imaginations of many, 

incorruptibly designed 

to withstand life’s challenges, 

life’s untenable situations, 

even life’s unbearable tragedies, 

withstand them 

with absolute grace and equanimity. 



And when the illusion collapses, 

Mothers who do not live up to 

this standard are maligned, 

often by other Mothers 

struggling to live up to 

their own ideals, 

and resented for 

their shortcomings 

by their children 

and onlookers.


Some mothers 

(be they biological, step, or adoptive) 

are downright cruel. 

Some mothers have committed 

unspeakable and absolute atrocities 

unto their children. 

Yes, some family situations are horrific.

While every one of these instances 

is tragic, and the ripples of which 

effect our communities in many 

unseen, unimaginable and intangible ways, 

we know this is not the majority mothers. 

Or even close to it.

Even in the most typical 

of challenging mother/child relationships, 

fraught as they are with tension, 

and even encumbered as they may be 

with betrayals and forms 

of hurt and harm 

difficult to move beyond.

Most mother/child relationships 

are never beyond reconciliation.

It just takes 

a willingness 

to forgive 

and release.

Often that forgiveness of Mothers 

  • is a forgiveness of them 

not living up to 

some fictional standard.

Often that release 

– is a release of judgement.

Perhaps it is part of the 

cellular-deep implications 

of what many call patriarchy 

that results in this 

acute and infectious 

desire to assemble expectations 

for mothers so intricate and convoluted 

that as such 

it would take a Goddessherself 

to find success in them. 

While treating these unrealistic, 

fully unachievable, expectations 

for an earthbound woman 

as if there were 

a fail-safe system built-in. 


blaming the mother 

when she fails to live up to the expectations. 

Guilty before proven innocent.

Convicted without allowance 

for submission of evidence 

in Exhibit of full disclosure.

By in large, 

many children have complex relationships 

in their adulthood with their mothers, 

as a result of circumstances 

and parenting skills 

that were lacking in the best of times. 

As well as outside – and internal – 

influences beyond the mother’s control 

as the children grew up.

Often resulting in mothers 

being emotionally or mentally absent, 

and even physically absent 

from their children 

at vulnerable periods in their lives.

I have observed, that 

most mother/adult-child relationships, 

where one or both are ostracizing 

the other, 

or struggling with engaging in 

loving communication 

and acceptance of each other, 

the heartache for both becomes habit. 

Each vying for their stake in righteousness 

and in being right

Said another way, 

each longing to be understood. 

And to be accepted and loved.

The child with their feelings of abandonment 

  • which are real even if they are imagined. 

Abandonment experienced and informed 

through their optically-restricted 

childhood lens, 

never having detailed access to 

circumstances, or awareness of 

their mother’s inner landscapes, 

so as to fully grasp 

the entirety of any given situation. 

The mother with her desire 

for her offspring to understand 

she did her best, 

even if she didn’t. 

The mother often longing for forgiveness 

from her children 

that she cannot even grant to herself. 

Let alone name.

These incompatible feelings 

manifest in resentments of the other. 

And the symptoms arise in forms of 

fights spanning politics and lifestyles. 

Flicking known triggers 

and picking at old scars. 

Sometimes arguments and infighting 

can seem to reach the point of no return, 

so deep and longstanding 

are the wounds. 


it’s complete 



The sound of which can cause hearts 

to become brittle 

and emaciate the soul.

What can we do? 

We can give ourselves permission 

to change, 

and to set each other free.

As our Thought for Contemplation today advises, 

with the words of Mystic David Whyte 

where he counsels: 

“You must learn one thing. 

The world was made to be free in. 

Give up all the other worlds 

except the one to which you belong.” 

It can be difficult to let go of 

long held resentments. 

A challenge to forgive someone, 

especially if they have not apologized, 

or even perhaps not recognize 

their role in the painful situation. 

It may feel imprudent 

to release someone from 

subjective accountability 

without requirement of 

something equal or more in return. 

Or seem impossible, 

if they have died 

  • or if they are unreachable. 



Or Spirit. 

Yet, to do otherwise, 

to not set them free, 

is to imprison them, 

and you along with them. 

Which will constrict 

every thing else in your life.

The world was made to be free in.”

Do you want to reside 

in a destructively constructed prison?

Or the World to which you belong?

As adults we can consciously 

heed the advice of 

Poet Cleo Wade when she tells us,

“The time is always now…

The time is always right

to embrace your path

to accept what you had to walk through yesterday

and what you must step away from now 

as you move toward 


We cannot change the past.

What do you want today and tomorrow to be?

If your mother was unavailable



even intellectually, philosophically,

If your mother has hurt your feelings, 

or unfairly judged you, 

or not provided for you 

in ways that nourished you 

body, mind and spirit

and it is at all possible 

for you to find room in your heart to forgive her:

Please forgive her.

If you are a mother who feels 

you did not do as great a job 

at mothering your children 

as you wish you did. 

Please forgive yourself.

If your children have judged you harshly, 

please forgive them.

If you are a mother raising young children, 

be kind to yourself, 

be gentle to your children.  

Set reasonable expectations of you 

and of them


ask for help 

BEFORE you need it. 

And mothers of all ages, 

and all circumstances, 

please take opportunities 

to honor your motherhood 

in practice and in ritual. 

Honor it in ways unique to you. 

In ways that most nurture you 

and satisfy you.

Mother’s Day brings up so many 

varied emotions for women 

(and men alike). 

Many mourn on Mother’s Day:

Motherless Children;

Children with Mother-Wounds;

Children whose mothers have died;

Mothers whose children have died;

Mothers whose children are incarcerated, 

or live far away from them, 

or are otherwise estranged;

Women who’ve miscarried 

or have infertility issues;


and all 

and more 

can experience suffering amplified 

on this holiday.

Should you have an ache in your heart, 

honor it 

by seeking to heal it.

And then, 

there are also those

who have had wonderful 

mother experiences, 

who are hesitant 

to claim their joy 

in the face of 

someone else’s suffering. 

Please don’t be.

Claim your Joy!

If you have had a wonderful mother 

– celebrate her!

And, if you are 

that wonderful mother 

– allow yourself to be celebrated!!

Some have been blessed 

by variations of fairytales 

come true in real life:

Happy homes, 

with Happy Moms, 

where Happy Children are raised, 

and go on to raise 

w/holy Happy Children of their own.

Cherish that!

And light the way for others.

Know that there is no perfect Mother. 

No perfect family. 

Know that Motherhood is messy. 

From the beginning, 

and the beginning of the beginning, 

it’s messy! 

And continues to be messy. 

Motherhood is mundane. 

Sometimes down right drudgery. 

Motherhood is miraculous. 

By whatever means 

you come to call yourself Mother. 

Being a mother 

is participating in 

the miracle of human living.

And, here’s the thing.

Mothering is something 

that should not be done alone.

Ancient humans celebrated 

the sacred feminine in community.

Our feelings of loneliness and suffering 

often arise because of the 

disconnected lives many are living.

In Biblical times, 

the writers provided instruction 

for believers to care for widows 

and for orphans 

and fatherless children. 

To see that their needs are met. 

That they have clothing, 


safe shelter, 

and access to the teachings of the scriptures. 

The teachings 

of that which was believed 

to benefit them most.

James 1:27, NIV: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Deuteronomy 10:18 (BBE): Judging uprightly in the cause of the widow and of the child who has no father, and giving food and clothing in his mercy to the man from a strange country.

While our definitions 

of family 

have evolved over time. 

Our basic needs 

remain the same. 

As do our obligations to each other. 

Our obligations 

to those most vulnerable 

in our communities. 

And when we each contribute 

to helping Mothers and helping children

helping through the mundane and the messy, 

miracles abound 

  • and the ripples of that, too, 

effect our communities in many ways. 

Noticeably, with reductions and cessations 

in cycles of depression, 

poverty, illiteracy, 

school drop out rates, 

domestic violence and other crimes. 

Correspondingly, with increases in 

creative expression,


and cultural engagement. 

Remarkably, with the enhancement 

of the physical communities we live in, 

be them urban, suburban or rural: 

more parks and community gardens, 

playgrounds and preserved lands.

When our mindsets and actions reflect 

that we are committed to 

taking care of one another, 

individuals and communities thrive. 

A dear friend shared with me 

this week the words of 

Anne Lamott, 

a writer I turn to 

and quote frequently 

in my own musings. 

A diatribe really, 

and one heavily invested 

in the transparent demystification 

of the flaws and failures of this holiday 

  • and the stymied preordained pitfalls 

of Mothering, 

of which our society 

in its entirety 

is complicit in.

Anne says in part,

“My main gripe with Mother’s Day 

is that it feels incomplete 

and imprecise. 

The main thing that ever helped mothers 

was other people 

mothering them

including aunties and brothers; 

a chain of mothering 

that keeps the whole shebang afloat.”



Being Mothered.

I am an advocate 

of celebrating Motherhood 

in all its wondrous facets. 

The Divine Feminine too, 

in which we each, 

regardless of our gender, 

have access too. 


I believe, 

need for.

So, at least at present, 

I would not call 

to abolish Mother’s Day. 

Nor Father’s Day for that matter. 


I would seek to have it serve 

as another pause 

on our often frenetic 

and overly-booked schedules; 

a mindful moment 

where we are encouraged 

to take time for ourselves, 

either as mothers, 

or as someone 

who is in relationship 

to mothers, 

and feel into 

the places that may benefit 

from healing, 

benefit from tenderness, 

benefit from love.

May it be so.