The Torah shares the stories of mothers in every stage. First Sarah and later Rachel as soon-to-be mothers, yearning for a child of their own while their extended families blossom; The fierce love of Rebecca for her son Yaakov, the bravery of Yocheved who cast her infant into the Nile in desperate hope for his survival; The love of Naomi for her almost-daughter Ruth, two women whose love and history bonded them to one another. By sharing these narratives in all their detail, the Torah communicates that the stories of mothers matter, that the arc of their lives shape the development of our people.
With this in mind, Mother’s Day can be a time to honor and celebrate the stories of all the mothers we love. Whether they are the matriarchs who keep tradition alive in our families, the mothers who bring peace to our days, or the examples we look to for strength in complicated times, these are narratives we cherish and recount.
With Passover just behind us, we are well acquainted with the power of a story. We know that stories can free us, strengthen our resolve, or gently guide us through complex times. To have your story told is in some ways the ultimate gift, and what better day to explore, retell, and magnify these stories than Mother’s Day?
A collection of photos can be a beautiful way to tell these stories. Creating an album of pictures from all stages of her life is a task that she might not get around to herself, but it’s a wonderful way to honor her story both as an individual and a mother. Children can contribute to the creation of this gift with excitement and ease, and Mom will love flipping through the album with them, pointing out key characters or reminiscing about good times.
Another way to honor her narrative is to choose a gift that reflects her stories, her unique character, and her present joys. Find a piece of art that nods to her strength, a scarf that celebrates her love of color, or a beautiful new kiddush cup for celebrating rituals as a family. Gifts that make her feel seen and known, that relate to her specific qualities and acknowledge her passions, are one of the strongest reminders of love that you can give her on Mother’s Day.
The old Jewish joke always mentions the mother who asks why her children never call, why they never write. After the obligatory chuckle, we may notice that she isn’t asking why they don’t take her on more upscale vacations, or why they haven’t given her grandchildren yet (ok, maybe she does mention that last one). Instead it’s about telling family stories, the shared narratives of our interwoven lives. To pause and listen, to celebrate the tales she can tell, the details of the many years—that is the ultimate gift on this day. To show that the narratives of mothers matter, from Biblical times all the way until today.
Sara Bellin is a non-profit program manager and freelance writer in the Boston area. By day she engages with contemporary challenges in Jewish education, and then pulls up her chair again at home to write articles relating to Jewish lifestyle, identity and values. Bellin lives in Brookline with her husband and two year old son.
May 02, 2019
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