Senryu : observe

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observe Mother’s Day
not one day but everyday
love given, returned

senryu by M. Nakazato LaFreniere

I was working on a t-shirt for mother’s day.  I know some people had a toxic mother or father and they either don’t want to talk about them at all or talk about them ad infinitum.  Some like to rave about their parents being wonderful and perfect.  Most of us are in the middle raised by folks who loved us, did their best, made some mistakes but mostly did alright.

 calM (mostly)
   lOving (always)
smarT (of course)
    Handy (no choice)
  enErgetic (on good days)
   gReat (yay! my kids say so)
t-shirt that I was working on

When someone gives and gives without asking, it’s easy for the recipient to not be grateful, not be aware of the sacrifices because the person isn’t asking you to count costs.  Getting up on five hours sleep to make breakfast for everyone before people fly off to school and leaving for work themselves, coming home tired but pulling it together to feed and clean and spend some time together.  Putting dreams aside until children finish school or retirement or not going on a cruise because someone needs braces.  It’s little things and big things and all the time and the cost isn’t counted because it’s love.

In Japan, someone told me about a ritual.  Don’t really remember now if it was Buddhism, Zen or Shinto or something else.  Don’t even remember who told me. They said each morning, Bow to the North in gratitude to your parents (thinking of something they did you are grateful for).  Then bow (forget the next direction, West?) in gratitude to your teachers–school teachers when you’re younger but later role models and other people who teach you things.  Then bow  in gratitude to your friends.  Then finally bow in gratitude to the world.  (I interpreted that as nature and everything else)

I think this practice of being grateful, of remembering what people have done for you is a good one.  We are so often aware of what we do but take for granted what others do so their efforts become invisible and we discount it without being aware of it.  This can leave a person disgruntled, feeling like no one cares.  Cultivating gratitude is about making the invisible visible, of becoming aware of what others do for you.

The important thing is to learn to do that everyday, not just on annual holidays.  And also to be active in one’s own caring — not taking our caring for granted but acting on it — calling mum/dad today to say hello, visiting, hanging out in the garden, going to Bingo, whatever.  (Yeah, Bingo is boring but the point is to do what they like to do together, not necessarily what you like — because when you were a kid, they did what you liked, not what they liked).

Don’t just tell them about your life.  Ask questions about their past. Find out what they were like in grade school, in high school, in their life long before you were born.  Years and decades pass quickly and it’s easy to let days slip by, saying I’ll call tomorrow, on Mother’s Day, on Christmas as if love is contained by holidays.

Because time/life is finite and then it’s done and there is no time left to say thank you.  To say I remember you did this and this and I’ve always appreciated it.

I miss my mom but I will always be grateful I moved back home when she was elderly.  It was hard in the beginning because we argued (she was treating me like I was 15 again! geez!) but we got used to each other all over gain.  And I started asking her questions about herself.  I got to know her as a person.  I didn’t realize until then how much I took her for granted almost as if she was a mom avatar instead of a real person.  I miss the money from the job I quit and the pension I would have had but I would do it all over again in a New York minute.  At the time I felt like it was a huge sacrifice but later realized it wasn’t.  It would have been a worse sacrifice not getting to know her better.

Funny what you end up being grateful for.  I got lucky.  Hope you do too.

References:

observe
daily prompts, daily post

©2018 M.LaFreniere, all rights reserved

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13 thoughts on “Senryu : observe”

  1. There’s a lot to like here. First, calm (mostly) made me smile. Second, the mom avatar instead of a real person is a great way to describe how we sometimes treat(ed) our mother. Third, the paragraph about bowing in each direction in gratitude is a lovely scene and different approach to discuss cultivating gratitude.

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    1. Thank you for the lovely comment! And I really appreciate the comment as I was worried that it was long but one thought led to the other so thank you!

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  2. I didn’t have the best childhood, but I do appreciate that my parents worked hard to make a good life for us. My mother was an angel. I miss her terribly. She knew that I loved her though.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend. ♥

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    1. Sounds like you had a great mom. It sounds like you have a great life now — which to me is better than a great childhood because adulthood lasts so much longer and mostly you make it what it is.

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  3. Same sentiments as Comedy Plus, definitely not a great childhood! But I know I had fun-lots of it which saved me. And my mother did so much for me-us1
    I like your article about being grateful. I wish we all were and not merely immediately registering the good things we do for people. All around us, people are also doing good things for each other and us.
    And my mother did her very best despite some very difficult hardships she faced.
    Happy Mother’s Day to all!

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    1. love the sincere honesty in your comment. Hope you and your mom will have a good mother’s day. Childhood can be rough — not the least of which we have very little control over the circumstances and recognizng that parent’s also did their best with what they are given helps I think. I agree with your wish. It’s good to be aware of what people do for us. It’s so easy to take things for granted. Hope you’are having a great weekend.

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  4. I did not know my birth mother… and had one step that left and another that was almost too young… but at least was there. And then too the MIL. Each gave lessons and love to the best that they were able. It helps to remember the better things.

    I like that bowing – kind of like keeping a gratitude journal, writing at least three things one is grateful for each day.

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    1. I agree, it does help to remember the good things. They say the memories you reinforce reinforces pathways in your brain, whether it’s happy, angry, bitter, joyful or sad pathways. It sounds you like you had a very eventful childhood.

      That idea of a gratitude journal is awesome!

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  5. Wonderful post! I love the idea of the ritual and will now do a search on the internet to see if I can find more info about it. Sounds like a great way to start a day.

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    1. If you find it, let me know. I only remember that bit of the conversation and it was awhile ago. I think it’s Zen but what if it’s shinto or confucious. It’s been decades and the friend who told me passed. She was pretty cool and was very into tea ceremony.

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      1. I haven’t been able to find anything so far…will keep looking, though. I’m glad that you were able to remember at least part of it.

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        1. Me too. I remember after she told me I used to do it for a little white which is why I remember the action part. I have a book she gave me on tea ceremony and it’s philosophy. I’ll look for it — it might have something in it.

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