Celebrate the Season

Acknowledging Mothers and Fathers

On Mother’s Day, May 12th, and Father’s Day, June 16th, let’s take a moment to recognize our parents, ourselves as parents, and all the others who have taken on the important challenge of parenting. This year let’s be as inclusive as we can, widening our view and giving voice to the acknowledgment impulse where we might have skipped it in the past.

Too often we let acknowledgments go unsaid for fear of awkwardness. Too often we resist an acknowledgment given to us. But what better use of our energy is there than giving and receiving love?  The poet William Blake wrote, “And we are put on earth a little space / That we may learn to bear the beams of love.”  Courage may be required.

A three-part acknowledgment is a powerful and transformational experience for your chosen person. Specifically naming the action you are acknowledging sets the stage and grabs attention. Identifying the quality demonstrated by that person’s action tells them how you see them. Clearly stating the impact of their action on you or others puts their acknowledgment into the real world. It’s really about manifesting love.

If we choose to have children, we realize first-hand the magnitude of our own parents’ choice to spend their lives raising us. Our parents may feel acknowledged simply knowing we now have a concrete understanding of what they did and seeing us learn to take on that commitment ourselves.

Whether or not we have children, our ever-maturing perspective allows us to see new reasons and ways to acknowledge our parents. Yet at some point, when they are gone, we wish we could keep acknowledging them with our deepening perspective. We can take that impulse and that perspective and apply it to our peers. Don’t we hope that our parents were acknowledged by their peers for their parenting back when we couldn’t do it because we were tantrum-throwing toddlers or peevish teens? Okay, then let’s acknowledge each other in the present for our parental triumphs, little and large, that may not be understood by our kids until later.

Our definition of family has thankfully expanded over time to include more and more close-knit groups that are less and less like the stereotypical nuclear family. Individuals who might not strictly be called parents may feel truly seen if we acknowledge them for the care they give their loved ones. Everyone has a parental impulse, although it might show up in teaching, or volunteer work, or care of friends in need.

Those of us with pets know that the strength of the bond and the level of trust and devotion in those relationships is not to be trivialized. Inter-species parenting is deserving of being included in Mother’s and Father’s Day acknowledgments.

Finally, we are all parents to our inner children. If acknowledging ourselves as our own parental figures helps us remember the importance of caring for, advocating for, and building trust with ourselves, then Mother’s Day and Father’s Day will have served an important purpose for us this year.

By Roxanne and Bob Duniway, Seattle Circle

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