I used to hate Mother’s Day. For a long time I felt like it was a poorly veiled condescension to humor the people who are the source of our being with flowers and breakfast in bed, as though that could somehow make up for the phenomenal responsibility women carry. In second grade, we made soaps and wrapped them in hand-dyed tissue paper tied together with ribbons and flowers (fathers got painted rocks for office paper weights on Father’s Day). I remember feeling extremely proud and good about my hand-made gifts, but then confused by my mother’s exhausted gratitude. I loved going out of my way for this lady, and somehow the most she could muster was a smile stretched over irony.
And now my own kids do the same for me–they treat me like a queen all day long, buzzing about like sated worker drones. But I’m a single mother, and it can really suck, and for many years the critical Sunday would somehow distill the negative of being divorced and having failed an ideal I’ve been as oppressed by as anyone else, in all the many ways that we are. As my children would frolic in the kitchen or happily get in the car for a trip to the garden center to buy more things to plant, I would dread the length of the hours in a day and wonder, can it just be fucking Monday already?
Think of all the people who’ve wanted to have children and couldn’t. Or those who have lost children, and the countless people who grieve the loss of their own mother, either because of death or difficult relationships. For others it’s the death of a wife. Or they feel the pressure to have children when they’d really rather not. Although most holidays celebrate some kind of spiritual or philosophical ideal, Mother’s and Father’s Days celebrate ideals of human beings, and so necessarily narrow the potential when actually there are endless ways that women, and men, show up to create, protect, and serve.
According to Julian of Norwich, English anchoress and Christian mystic who, in 1395, authored the first book by a woman in the English language: the Divine as Masculine is the otherworldly spirit we aspire to, while the Divine as Feminine is the manifestation in and through form, our life here on Earth. I like this, as it brings it down to what you do and how you do it, and is something that is all of us, not just women and those with children in particular. It’s how we hold space for others, whether we create, nurture, teach, or serve.
This morning my friend Julia Henzerling stopped by. She walked into my kitchen with a bag of seeds and announced it was time to get the kale in–that is, into the plot of dirt in my yard we refer to as “the garden,” which this year I’ve completely ignored. She’s also a single mother, and is about to move into our neighborhood. There’ll then be three of us with our kids, and my spot of Earth is going to be our community garden.
Julia began farming with Helen Martin at Lady Bug Farms in Arroyo Hondo in 2007, and she is now its primary manager. She also runs a graphic design consulting business and dances tap when no one’s looking. You have probably seen her serving beer and food at a variety of Taos’ fine pubs. She’s got two beautiful and very talented daughters, and she’s just started training for a 100-mile bike ride happening on Amelia Island, FL in October this year.
The bike ride is part of a fundraiser for Juvenile Diabetes (T1D), organized by Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), www.jdrf.org. Julia’s 13-year old nephew, Ben, was born at almost the same time as her own daughter, Olivia, was arriving. When the kiddos were two, it was apparent that Ben wasn’t growing nearly as quickly as Olivia, and when they had him checked out, he was diagnosed with T1D. Since then it’s been daily blood-glucose testing and insulin injections. Julia’s sister has since become the President of the Board of Directors of JDRF, and this year Julia is riding to raise $5,000 toward T1D research. Her campaign, Stupid Pancreas, has already brought in nearly 30% of her goal, but she needs to start getting on the bike for real.
As part of her effort to build enthusiasm and train, she’s inviting anyone who’s interested to ride with her on planned designated “pep” rides. The first one is a Mother’s Day Fun Ride, this Sunday, May 8, at 2pm. The course is a lovely 16.4 miles, beginning at Taos Cow, heading down Hondo-Seco Rd. to Midtown Lounge, then South on 522 to the blinking light, and finally West on 64 to Taos Mesa Brewing–what a perfect thing to do to honor all the mother’s in the world. And you have to wear a plastic flower in your helmet if you want a Julia to buy you beer at the end of the road.
As if motherhood weren’t hard enough!
If you’re inclined to ride, or have questions about Julia’s campaign, you can go to her Facebook page Julie’s Ride to Cure Diabetes: https://www.facebook.com/JuliesRidetoCure/
For Mother’s Day Fun Ride! event info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1159142700789256/
For Julia’s Personal JDRF Donation page, Stupid Pancreas, please visit: http://www2.jdrf.org/site/TR?fr_id=6193&pg=personal&px=10713831
And a Stupid Pancreas video for your viewing pleasure…