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Three Things I Ask Of Mothers For Mother's Day

Happy Mothers' Day!
Happy Mothers' Day!
Rosely Sayão


On Mothers' Day, mothers are recognized and receive praise from their families and society at large. It's a special day that nobody should forget to celebrate, right? My homage will consist of a few requests and some words of gratitude.

Cultivating patience is the first thing I would ask mothers to do. They would need patience to deal with the nights of bad sleep because their babies were crying, to survive the whining and stubbornness of small children, to navigate the pointless arguments with teenagers and, even, to endure the apparent lack of gratitude shown by aloof adult sons and daughters.

I know how difficult it is because it's not just one whine, one sleepless night, one dispute with your teenage son, one wound from the contempt expressed by your adult child. It's many of these things, and more. But this is what raising children is all about: it's an "unrecoverable investment", as a colleague of mine puts it. This is why I pay homage to, and thank, mothers for their love, generosity and sacrifice, all done in silence, without anybody noticing the times they desperately sought the best solutions for the seemingly unsolvable problems their children faced. I want to thank them for not giving up, regardless of how bad the situation might have been.

The second thing I ask of mothers is not to feel guilty for the mistakes their sons and daughters might make, for the decisions their children take and which, in retrospect, appear to have been the wrong ones due to the frustration those decisions led to.

Mothers, just like anybody else, have flaws and these don't miraculously disappear with maternity. Mothers have their limits, their blind spots, and they try to bring out the best in themselves even though they don't always succeed.

For that reason, I want to thank mothers who forgive themselves, who try to understand themselves better and who, for the most part, accept their children when they start acting differently from the way they had hoped.

The third and last thing I would like is for mothers to let their kids have the school life they want, depending on their children's results at the time. We've been giving far too much importance to grades, and, with it, burdening our children with undeserved criticism and disappointment.

Children don't need to like going to school, they don't need to get good grades. What children need is to learn, to be curious and eager to know more, and there are more ways to get there than with schools. We just need schools to keep going ahead, as Natalia Ginzburg wrote in her book The Little Virtues.

For that, I am thankful to mothers who don't give in to the temptation of following their children's every step at school, and, especially, to those who consider the teaching of virtues, honesty, morals and ethics as more important than anything else.

Finally, I want to pay tribute to the mothers who reflect on their jobs, the most important of all jobs, and who lose minutes, or even hours, of sleep reorganizing their motherly duties.

A very happy and loving Mothers' Day to all!

*Rosely Sayão is a psychologist and educational consultant.

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